In the movie Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddy Krueger is one POS. An unconvicted killer, he’s burned alive.
He takes his revenge by invading the dreams of people enjoying the trite amenities of Elm Street. His MO is killing characters who appear in these dreams. Which turns the dreams into nightmares. Plus—and this seems more than a little gratuitous—the characters turn up dead in real life. Or as real as life gets in the movies.
In nightmare under plutonomy, Freddy Krueger is played by Ajay Kapur, a superstar global strategist at Deutsche Bank. He’s an as-yet unconvicted douchebag. Freddy/Ajay made a name for himself at Citigroup, owner of a bank that screws the American public for a living. (Hence, the need for a douchebag, presumably.)
Freddy/Ajay wrote two cheeky memos* to super wealthy Citigroup clients that said in so many words: the world of the super wealthy is the only world that matters. And if the super wealthy play their cards right, they won’t have to interact with anyone who isn’t as super wealthy as they are.
According to Freddy/Ajay, US economic growth is controlled by only 100K people. A cup of water in the Great Lakes. The economic growth is largely consumed by them, too. And this will continue, indefinitely. At least until the people who don’t count—the remaining 99+% of us nonsuper wealthy, evidently barely conscious most of the time—wake up and decide to revolt. Most likely using violence.
Not much difference between life on Elm or under plutonomy. Which is the economic form of plutocracy, illustrated in these pages some weeks back. To recap, take Pluto the dwarf-planet-that-once-was and Pluto the Disney dog with boomerang ears, put them in a bag, and shake them up good. Don’t forget to add in the passionate Pluto-is-so-a-planet folks and the folks that now insist Neptune’s not a planet either.
What you have when everything shakes out is rule by imaginary-dwarf-and-probably-rabid canines. Or, as the dictionary so mulishly maintains, rule by the rich.
Is plutonomy on the tips of everyone’s tongue? Are the media discussing this issue? Have people stopped holding tea parties and blaming imaginary demons and started confronting extreme income inequality, a danger to our democracy that’s actually real?
In fact, there are some alert citizens out there.** Including Bill Moyers who recently delivered his “Welcome to the Plutocracy” speech. But few of us have been paying much attention to what plutonomy signifies. Freddy/Ajay makes this point: our ignorance is key. The great unwashed must remain blind to the ever-increasing national wealth. And especially to how almost none of this wealth lands in our bank accounts. Even if our labor produces it. You can almost hear the whooshing of dead Franklins passing us by. And landing in the bank accounts of the super wealthy. To pay for luxury goods and services. These, Freddy/Ajay says, are the growth industries of the future.
And what consumes our attention: Looking for work. Finding a second job to pay for the kids’ education. Stretching the food budget. Putting off dental care. Figuring out how to pay off a mortgage that outstrips the value of the house. And my personal favorite, deciding which bills to stuff in the old desk drawer.
Memo, part 2 CitigroupPlutonony Part 2
** Three things characterize a plutonomy, which the Wall Street Journal’s Robert Frank explains in his “The Wealth Report” blog at http://blogs.wsj.com/wealth/2007/01/08/plutonomics/
The entire blog is worth reading, but the 3 characterizations of plutonomies, according to Frank, are:
1. They are all created by “disruptive technology-driven productivity gains, creative financial innovation, capitalist friendly cooperative governments, immigrants…the rule of law and patenting inventions. Often these wealth waves involve great complexity exploited best by the rich and educated of the time.”
2. There is no “average” consumer in Plutonomies. There is only the rich “and everyone else.” The rich account for a disproportionate chunk of the economy, while the non-rich account for “surprisingly small bites of the national pie.” Kapur estimates that in 2005, the richest 20% may have been responsible for 60% of total spending.
3. Plutonomies are likely to grow in the future, fed by capitalist-friendly governments, more technology-driven productivity and globalization.