In an article by the Wall Street Journal (which you may not be able to read without a subscription and discussed in the Washington Post here), AIG’s CEO Robert Benmosche compared the furor over big banker bonuses to Southern lynchings.
You heard right. Average people being mad about the same people who caused the economic crash getting huge payouts is the same as when evil-racist white people would gather in mobs to go kill African American people over any mild division of ideal, both real and unreal.
[They] intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out there with their pitchforks and their hangman nooses, and all that — sort of like what we did in the Deep South [decades ago]. And I think it was just as bad and just as wrong.
The complete and utter disconnect from reality expressed in this sentiment is baffling but not unheard of. Ezra Klein says in his WaPo piece that it is commonplace for bankers to make those kinds of comparisons. Although there is no defense for it, it reminds me of something I heard on NPR about this relatively new study that shows the more powerful a person felt, the less empathy they felt for their fellow human beings.
Those without power are well aware of the callousness of those who exemplify power, and you would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t consider the people on Wall Street as some of the most powerful people in the world. However, despite that there is no defense for this kind of ignorant tripe, hopefully this man can be called out on his arrogant mutter in an extremely public manner.
Life is not a trivial thing as Benmosche thinks. How so you may ask? He does so by acting as if Wall street’s love of greed could never be compared to those lost lives. It’s sickening to think that this man cares so much about money that he feels persecuted by people voicing their disapproval about bonuses being paid out.
Nevertheless, until the dynamics of society change, they will continue to insulate themselves in a world where not being able to afford a vacation home, equates to living on the street.