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October 13, 2009

From the Land of No Recession — and Money to Burn

Cupcake Car.jpg

To put that $23 billion bonus pool number in perspective, it is the most Goldman Sachs has accumulated for bonuses in its history — twice as much as in 2008. And it is doing so while memories are still fresh that just a year ago taxpayers had to step in when Wall Street, and even Goldman, were facing a run on the bank.

– from: Don’t Fail, or Reward Success (via NYT).

With the holiday season just around the corner and most people desperate for the sprinkle of a break, this wire image just floored me. The caption reads:

Brady White as Santa Claus drives a Customized Cupcake Car with Lisa Pongrace, and Greg Solberg, rear, at the unveiling of luxury retailer Neiman Marcus’ Christmas Book Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2009, in Dallas. The cars are powered by a 24-volt electric motor and cost $25K.

I’m interested in how you read the photo. Auto industry metaphors not withstanding, what ran me over was how much it licks the sugar off the death of ostentation and the notion of “The Great Recession” as the equalizer between the haves and have-nots.

(image: Tim Sharp/A.P.)

  • DennisQ

    One of the de facto goals of right wing economic policies was to starve out potential trouble-makers. This was a point Ellen Willis made about changes in New York’s employment scene. At one time, Bohemians and artists could make a freelance living, but she noted the increasing lack of support for people on the fringe.
    For example, Giuliani “cleaned up” Times Square to replace it with tourist-friendly attractions and corporate control of the arts. Corporations are not creative, and legitimate theater suffered. Broadway shows are now so tepid and safe they don’t do anything but amuse people.
    Corporate dominance throughout the whole of New York’s economy also meant that new industries didn’t develop in New York. The recession that followed is a result of the failure to bear the political costs of allowing the Left to survive. Corporate myrmidons aren’t willing to risk their comfortable situations. One other consequence was that Manhattan’s Bohemian neighborhoods became too pricey. Creative people were driven from above 96th Street to below Chambers Street.
    New York has become a second-tier city. Nobody needs to come to New York because of what’s happening. Tourists might as well go to Minneapolis, or San Diego. It isn’t worth investors’ time and trouble to look for interesting projects to fund and develop.
    Katie and Krystie Barry may end up returning to Ohio, and it will be a loss to New York, and indeed to the rest of America. I really do blame the right wing for crippling New York. Ironically, Bill Thompson, the Democratic candidate for Mayor, has been advocating a return to the risk-taking, high-spirited New York it was before the Republicans ruined it.

  • Tena

    Ever seen the Depression movie: My Man Friday?
    This is overall rather harmless, really.

  • donna

    Let them eat cupcakes!

  • bystander

    Well said, Dennis. Sorry, I think I’ve said that before, but your contributions are terrific.

  • mjfgates

    These cupcake cars truly represent a return to prosperity. Why, one of the Real People could buy a set, and would then hire THREE full-time servants to drive them on the lawn and amuse his children! An investment in America, that is.

  • yg

    i didn’t really pay attention to this image before posting on the snowe thread. perhaps this influenced me.

  • yg

    besides smacking of denial and entitlement, the image also reminded me of this interview:
    In her new book, author Barbara Ehrenreich documents what she says is the destructive power of the positive thinking movement in the United States, from breast cancer to the workplace, to the economy, to politics as a whole.

  • Wayne Dickson

    You know how, following a performance that catches an audience off-guard, people kind of look around, waiting for some brave soul to step up and be the first to clap or jeer? The visual/auditory evidence is manifest. The question is knowing how to interpret it. And go with the crowd, avoiding embarrassment.
    The audience is the American electorate. The on-stage performance has been provided by Obama and the “bubble-baby” plutocrats like “Santa” and the ducklings behind him. So who gets the jeers, and who gets the “Ha ha, clever thieves” response? And who sets the lead?
    The AP reporter — in a purported news story! — told the public that Obama might be too earnest and too articulate. Does anyone know what she has had to say about the contemptible Gordon Gecko’s in those bizarrely goofy toy vehicles? ($25K each? How many college undergraduates or even younger kids could achieve the same effect for 1/10th — or much less — the wasteful cost?)
    Not irrelevant: Do people still read Willa Cather’s wonderful short story “Paul’s Case”? Quote. On Sunday afternoons, on Paul’s working class street,
    “The men on the steps–all in their shirt sleeves, their vests unbuttoned–sat with their legs well apart, their stomachs comfortably protruding, and talked of the prices of things, or told anecdotes of the sagacity of their various chiefs and overlords.
    Rather than resenting it, these men take pride in the excesses of those who oppress them.

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