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The Sufferings of the Millionaires, and the Sufferings of the Millions

This is rich (so to speak):

Despite the stock market’s positive performance over the past couple of years, the Fidelity survey found that 42 percent of millionaires still do not feel wealthy, compared to 46 percent, who said they didn’t feel wealthy in 2009.  In fact, among those who classified themselves as not feeling wealthy, the investable asset level needed to begin to feel wealthy is $7.5 million.

Of the 58 percent of millionaires who say they feel wealthy — up slightly from 54 percent in 2009 — they began to feel so at $1.75 million in investable assets, which is consistent with 2009 and up from $1.5 million in 2008.

“Our survey reinforces that the feeling of wealth is relative, based on factors such as the current market environment, a person’s age, lifestyle, and so on,” said [Michael R.] Durbin [president, Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services®].  “Regardless of what the market does, these factors are likely to change and, therefore, millionaires will continue to reassess what it really means to feel wealthy.”

Yeah, that whole $1.5 million just isn’t enough any more.

Just ask the folks in Minnesota for whom having $20 in their pockets is proof of . . . something nefarious. I’m not sure what, but the GOP is sure that it’s something bad. (To borrow from Dave Barry, I’m not making this up, and neither is Teddy.) But if the Millionaires hung out with these disreputable folks in Minnesota, I’m sure they’d feel better about their mere $1.5 million.

The suffering millionaires could also check in with the thousands in Missouri who are about to lose their unemployment benefits because of a grandstanding republican state senator. 11,700 folks will receive their last check in two weeks, with another 6,500 close behind them and about 950 coming each week after that. Running into these people might help improve the morale of the millionaires. To borrow from the proverb, “I cried because I had no mansion until I met a man who had no house.”

Or maybe they could visit with the family members and friends of the unnamed Costa Mesa CA maintenance worker who committed suicide after getting a layoff notice. (Note, please, that the suicide is three-quarters of the way down in the LA Times story about the layoffs. Insert a “burying the lede” joke here, if that’s not too tasteless for you.)  Dakine asks a very powerful question: how many suicides will there be?

I wish I had an answer for him — and I wish the answer were quite small. I also wish I had a pony. But I digress . . .

As Eli noted, the GOP model to deal with the suffering in our economy — you know, those folks with a mere $1.5 million — is simple:

. . . tax cuts, tax credits, tort reform, deregulation, subsidies for energy companies, deregulation again, more NAFTAs, pretending that structural unemployment is a real thing, and austerity (except for tax cuts, obviously).  Throw in another war and some gay/women/immigrant/Muslim/science-bashing, and you pretty much have… the Republican agenda for the past 30-40 years.  And none of these supposed job-creation strategies do squat to create jobs.

As Eli accurately described, while they don’t create jobs, they do create corporate profits — which is clearly the point. It’s not a bug; it’s a feature. Gotta take care of those folks who only have $1.5 million, you know, because life is rough if you’re not feeling wealthy.

Meanwhile, there are the folks Paul Krugman calls the forgotten millions — the folks without jobs, in whom Washington has lost interest. As Krugman notes,

There are almost five times as many unemployed workers as there are job openings; the average unemployed worker has been jobless for 37 weeks, a post-World War II record.

In short, we’re well on the way to creating a permanent underclass of the jobless. Why doesn’t Washington care? . . .

In early 2009, John Boehner, now the speaker of the House, was widely and rightly mocked for declaring that since families were suffering, the government should tighten its own belt. That’s Herbert Hoover economics, and it’s as wrong now as it was in the 1930s. But, in the 2010 State of the Union address, President Obama adopted exactly the same metaphor and began using it incessantly.

With bipartisanship like this, who needs partisan fighting?

As Brad Delong put it,

If there was one thing that I would have said in 2007 was certain to be true, it would have been that in a country with as weak a social safety net as the United States that 9% [unemployment] would be a three-alarm political emergency.

Yet it isn’t.


Between Krugman and Delong, I am reminded of a rich man who came to Jesus with a question. The 42% of the millionaires in the Fidelity survey could clearly resonate with him — and like that rich man, they probably don’t like the answer Jesus gave.

Poor babies. Poor, sad, miserable, suffering, pitiable babies.

Maybe if they had bigger silver spoons in their mouths, they wouldn’t feel so bad.

(photo h/t: Ohio Progressive)

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I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

And Preview is my friend.