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August 19, 2008

The Plight Of The Dean Baker

Dean Baker:

There has been an enormous rise in wage inequality over the last three decades. Most economists attribute this increase in inequality to the increased premium that highly valued skills can command in a globalized economy.

Fannie Mae (along with the rest of the financial sector) is working hard to prove these economists wrong. Daniel Mudd, the CEO of Fannie Mae, has earned tens of millions of dollars in this position over the last three years. In exchange for this extraordinary compensation, more than 1000 times what a minimum wage earner pulls down, Mr. Mudd pushed Fannie in bankruptcy. How many minimum wage earners could do that?...

Any normal worker would be fired in a second for such incredible incompetence, however Mr. Mudd is still in his job drawing a seven figure salary. Furthermore, no one seems to view this as strange, which suggests that it is common to have people with no skill whatsoever in the very highest paid positions in our economy.

Of course, Baker is well aware that Mudd possesses real, significant skills. True, Mudd is no good at keeping Fannie Mae solvent, but who cares? He wasn't hired to keep Fannie Mae solvent. He was hired to enrich his political patrons. And clearly he excels at that. So it's really not accurate to criticize Mudd for a lack of skill, any more than it's accurate to criticize bank robbers for a lack of skill at preventing bank robberies.

But Baker can't say that. Suggesting that the people who run America have any interest but Helping The Widows And Orphans is against the law if you need to be taken "seriously."

Thus, Baker's plight here is similar to that of the people who work at FAIR, as described by John Caruso:

One of my favorite things about FAIR is reading the careful, measured formulations they have to use in order to maintain an air of unbiased professional detachment, because you can practically feel the author doing everything in their power to restrain themselves from writing something like, "HOLY FUCKING JEHOVAH! HAVE THESE TOE-SNIFFING TURDS EVER EVEN CONSIDERED DOING JOURNALISM FOR ONCE IN THEIR LIVES INSTEAD OF KISSING GOVERNMENT ASS 24 HOURS A DAY? GYYYAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!" And that's why you should give lots of money to FAIR: so they can pay for the megadoses of Valium it takes to keep from going insane as they immerse themselves in this dreck day after day.

If it were up to me, people like FAIR staffers and Baker would receive (in addition to their ration of Valium) some type of mental combat medal.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at August 19, 2008 10:33 AM

"Of course, Baker is well aware that Mudd possesses real, significant skills."

You're going to have to back that up. I don't think he could run a company if he tried. And being a business-killer isn't a skill - I could do that.

I work at one of the top design agencies in the country, I'm constantly amazed at how inept most every CEO/COO/CTO is, and the fact that they run major American corporations is astounding.

The Peter Principle will kill America, as will the "Good Old Boys" network. Incompetence reigns.

Posted by: Christopher Wing at August 19, 2008 12:16 PM

The problem is that "managers" have become a class, complete with their own degrees, their own schools, their own social structure, etc. And that means that these "managers" are now beholden to and loyal to, primarily, their class. They aren't loyal to the companies they run, nor to the shareholders, nor the customers, nor the employees, nor the government they work under, nor the society they live in.

They sit on each others' boards, vote themselves obscene salaries and benefits and golden parachutes, grind long-established businesses into dust, ass-rape employees, and knowingly and willfully violate both legal statues and moral imperatives which have held for 6,000 years of human civilization.

They are blind and deaf to anything beyond the views of other members of their class. They insulate themselves from laws, from citizenship, indeed, from all consequences whatsoever of their massive fucktardery.

Mass executions would be uncivilized; but they are an agreeable fantasy.

Posted by: Hairhead at August 19, 2008 12:29 PM

I think the better solution would be to give the Muddy millions to Dean Baker. Think of it as a Truth Teller's Bonus.

Posted by: Aaron Datesman at August 20, 2008 07:53 PM