Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Notes on Politics: Cain's Odd Smoke-Filled Campaign Ad, Rich Getting Super-Rich & Gotta See 'Margin Call'

What are We to Make of This . . . Cain’s Campaign Blowin’ Smoke?

There has been a lot of buzz about GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain’s sudden rise in the polls, in at least one of them he has, shockingly, topped front runner Mitt Romney.

And while we’re trying to figure out when the Herman Cain 9-9-9 apples and oranges bubble is going to burst – I will be utterly astonished if it doesn’t – I’d like to know what in the heck is up with this latest Cain ad featuring his chief of staff literally blowing cigarette smoke at the camera. Seriously, anyone care to venture forth an explanation for the cigarette followed by Cain's Cheshire cat grin? It's baffling. I don't know what it means and it's been bugging me.

Top 1 Percent Saw 275 Percent Increase in Income, CBO Says

A new Congressional Budget Office report says that the top 1 percent of U.S. wage earners have seen their incomes increase by 275 percent over the past 30 years, Politico reported. Politico continued:

“The after-tax income for the highest-income households grew the most out of any group form 1979-2007, the CBO reported. The richest 1 percent of Americans saw a 275 percent growth in household income, while the poorest 20 percent experienced just 18 percent growth . . . The 60 percent in the middle of the income scale saw just under 40 percent growth in after-tax income.”

This provides the Occupy Wall Street/Occupy [Everywhere] protesters with fresh ammo in their objections to the widening gulf between the haves and the have-nots.

Go See ‘Margin Call’

Over the weekend I caught the new “inspired by a true story” film Margin Call, an insiders’ look at what happens when a Wall Street investment firm realizes it has taken on more financial risk than the total worth of the company and decides to sell off investments which they know have no value to unwitting customers in order for the firm to survive. It mixes a little bit of the aura from The Company Men and Up in the Air, as it starts off with mass layoffs at the firm, and also has the intelligent tension of the HBO drama Too Big To Fail.

It provides an unflinching look at the 2008 financial meltdown from the perspective of folks from inside one firm who are making decisions which they know will have a wide-reaching impact only most of them only care about what happens to themselves. While moral questions are raised, many immoral, greedy answers are provided, as some folks who aspire to do the “right” thing – which isn’t always clear – find themselves trapped within the confines of the framework of today’s financial world and believe they have no good choices. This whole financial mess, it’s complicated and ugly. But, then again, we already knew that.

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