[Photo: STIL via Unsplash]

Angry Mom: Oh, Honey — If Anybody’s ‘Out of Touch’, It’s You

I wasn’t going to waste my time on the over-privileged, excessively-pampered trophy wife Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin stupidly took with him on a recent taxpayer-funded business trip.

But after thinking about her rude, snotty, and insanely ill-informed reply to someone who took issue with her gross display of wealth, I think I should expend a few words.

Mrs. Mnuchin believes she and her spouse contribute more to the country than whomever it was who critiqued her behavior.

No. They and their kind are leeches. Bloodsuckers. Literally part of the great vampire squid empire Matt Taibbi described.

They do not add value to this country. They chew at its foundations in great, monster-sized bites.

And they believe they are entitled to do so.

But they’re wealthy! Look at all the money they have, one might say.

What did they do to make that wealth? They inherited much of it, especially in his case — they had access to pre-existing capital.

Meanwhile, nearly half of this country’s citizens can’t put their hands on $400 or more in cash in the event of an emergency.

This, in spite of the fact roughly half of the country has some money in an investment account. Let me guess that much of this is a 401K established through an employer and it’s not liquid. It’s also money managed by financial industry professionals like Steve Mnuchin who don’t do a lot actively with the Average Joe’s 401K but use them in the aggregate to take positions in the stock market while skimming off a living through fees — and the Average Joe only has $104,000 saved by the time they retire, on which to live the rest of their life.

Yeah, but these Mnuchins must have worked hard to get through those private schools, one might say.

Prove it. How many times do these uber wealthy ever really show anybody their grades to get a six-figure entry-level job out of college? Mnuchin’s father was a partner at Goldman Sachs. Mnuchin himself rubbed shoulders with a network of uber wealthy as a member of Yale’s Skull and Bones society. With that background it’s not hard to get one’s foot in the door AND draw a salary more than twice that of the Average Joe.

Ditto for Mrs. Mnuchin, who also attended private schools in Scotland and a private university in the U.S.

Average Joe or Josephine doesn’t have either the family money to go to expensive private prep schools or attend a four-year university without being massively in debt. The Average Joe Junior who graduated last year had more than $37,000 of student loan debt which will take them on average 10-21 years to pay off.

(Gee, I wonder who benefits from the interest on these loans…Bueller? Bueller?)

Deplaning from her taxpayer-subsidized flight, Mrs. Mnuchin’s attire, from the top of her over-processed hair to the ends of her manicured toes, was roughly equal in cost to the average student loan debt — her Birkin handbag alone costs about $20,000.

The same Average Joe/Josephine/Junior also faces a job market with deeply entrenched wage stagnation, making savings difficult after paying on school loans.

They also face difficulty before they graduate if they hold down a minimum wage job; there’s no place in the U.S. where rent on a one-bedroom apartment is affordable for a full-time minimum wage worker, let alone one who is trying to go to school full-time.

After graduation, long-stagnant entry level wages may help ease the pinch, but then there’s the challenge of rising health care costs which have not abated even though the ACA makes access to health insurance easier.

Good luck finding a way to afford having children. Diapers alone will cost $750 to $1200 a year.

Don’t even get me started on transportation costs. And Boomer-aged pundits pule about Millennials killing all the things…

But surely these uber wealthy people must have earned some of their wealth, one might foolishly claim.

Oh, yes, definitely. They earned it by capturing legislatures and regulatory bodies, and by putting a squeeze play on both investment analysts and regulations. They’ve used them to insure they never actually pay taxes appropriate to the amount of public resources they or their investment portfolio consumed. They’ve demanded quarter-after-quarter profits off the backs of the Average Joe/Josephine/Junior, insisting corporate management maintain low wages to offset other rising costs like rent. They’ll reward upper management with ridiculous compensation packages if they can maintain profits and sack them if they don’t. And then because foreign investors are driving up the price of property, they sink those profits into the same bubble and continue to lean on corporate management for profits even as they increase other business costs through increased rents.

They earned that wealth by sucking the lifeblood out of the kind of people Mrs. Mnuchin talk down to so defensively, even after they’d just paid for her air travel.

I would be so incredibly embarrassed as a parent if my adult children ever acted like Mrs. Mnuchin — blind and stupid about her privilege, ungrateful to the people upon whom her lifestyle has been built, wasteful of an opportunity to be a better human.

And incredibly out of touch with Americans.

And I’d be just as embarrassed if my kids ever acted like Mr. Mnuchin, too, but that’s another chapter.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

38 replies
  1. Jim White says:

    She also referenced how much Mnuchin is “giving up” by virtue of settling for a mere government salary for a few years.

    Yeah, right. You can bet that his rate of “earning” after his time in government will be much higher than it was before.

    • Rayne says:

      He’s working on yet more regulatory capture to screw the 99% out of even more of their lifeblood. Fuck her with her goddamn Birkin bag upside down and sideways.

      • Rayne says:

        Probably, haven’t looked — but what could you do if you’d inherited $3M from your parent AND you were an investment banker? His mother had $3M left post-Madoff which he was able to keep because of bankruptcy laws, if memory serves.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As you say, for top participants, using the revolving door is a money making enterprise. It increases future earnings, and doesn’t require student loan debt to do so. In fact, it is an essential part of the governmental capture that keeps the likes of Goldman Sachs and its clients so profitable – largely by exempting themselves from tax and from being subject to regulations that would make them internalize costs they so blithely cast off to others.

    Ms. Linton’s fiery overreaction to being called out on her narcissism – and her ability to fantasize like Donald Trump – indicates that she knows she’s in it for the ride and is afraid of being exposed, what with her marriage to Mnuchin being less than two months old. Before she gets too riled up, someone might tell her that she is now a public figure, a status with which her prior success in Hollywood might not have prepared her.

    Apart from the odd bit of anatomy and a portion of Mnuchin’s assets, Ms. Linton’s reach exceeds her grasp about as much as do the University of West Los Angeles Law School’s (her alma mater) aspirations of ever being accredited by the ABA.

  3. McDuff says:

    The Place de la Concorde is a good starting place……..line them up………all of them, and please do start the que with those who dye their hair orange.

    If the Place gets too busy, move the overload to the Tower of London……….Big Ben will remain silent.

    Now kindly do, put down your cup of tea and get off your ass Clandestine Services and clean up this faux Royal House of Cards Narcissistic Totallitarian Mess and all of those so willing to sell their soul to participate in this Grand Faustian Bargain.

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks, harpie! That last bit you posted in your comment — about her fucking Birkin handbag — was the last straw.

      Do you know how much my kid’s tuition is this term? One goddamn Hermes Birkin. Argh…

      • harpie says:

        Yeah, sorry about that :-)

        …I couldn’t just let it be, for some reason…probably the fkn Hermes Birkin bag as well…that “taurillon clemence leather”, don’t you know, with the GOLD [maybe that was just the color and it was not actually gold plated?] hardware, and the “clochette with lock and two keys”and “lined with white chevre”” of course! But what really got me about the descriptions I saw, was that they actually wrote that the “double rolled handles” had never been used…were, in effect pristine and virgin.

        Now that’s  special!  

        I’m sorry about all the comments…I didn’t mean to take over the thread. I’ll stop now.

        • Rayne says:

          “lined with white chevre” — when I first read that description, I bust out laughing.

          Chevre = goat’s milk cheese.

          No worries, I’m just as torqued off by Antoinette. ~barf~

  4. greengiant says:

    Trump and Ms. Munchin are not the problem any more than Marie Antoinette was. They are the symptom. Extreme wealth is not earned, it is stolen. The first two words of any business plan are “create monopoly”. “we make money the old fashioned way, we earn it” was just psyche warfare. The US government has been an example of William Black’s control fraud since before he popularized the term. The extreme money in control fraud is not made by siphoning out a tariff, it is selling short and then destroying the entity. Usually more effective to destroy from within using moles, but whatever works. Another model, destructive capitalism, the taking the monopoly from someone else, see Waltons is the limit when one monopoly, in the US today it is the medical industry, takes wealth from other monopolies to such an extent that the host economy crashes.
    The people will die business plan, forever wars, military intelligence complex, tobacco, auto industry, petroleum industry, sugar and carbohydrate industry, US medical care. I can not keep track. First addict people to opioids and then legislate a monopoly on opioid withdrawal drugs. [ Short segway, who is making money on drugs, and why is opioid flagged by this spell checker, talk about Orwellian ].
    I too have experienced Rayne’s examples of privilege. I am wondering how much the privilege, ( real as it is), fight is drama that distracts from large scale theft. The faster the pie shrinks the bigger an issue privilege becomes. The Clandestine Services a deus ex machina? Why would they clean up now when they are such a part of the long term problem and have done nothing in the past.

    • Rayne says:

      Mnuchin and his spouse aren’t merely symptoms. They are part and parcel, the same problem only this latest iteration, this present generation.

      It’s the same core problem economists found when they studied Florence, Italy; the same families which were wealthiest in 1427 are still the wealthiest 600 years later.

      Capital accumulates and retains its power. It shuts out newcomers. Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-first Century explains how it works.

      Mnuchin’s money may not be multiple generations old, but it is old by American standards.

      His spouse, too, may not have multiple generations of accumulated wealth, but she already has enough capital to gain entre to older capital.

      Her sneering attitude — considered déclassé by old wealth — is the id of capital. When Handbag Mouth calls someone “out of touch,” she telling them they are not in touch with the capital class.

      Fuck that hard with some Louboutins.

      The left has been unable to restrain capital’s power because it can’t build an effective narrative. We’ve known that since “death tax” and Lakoff’s elephant we’re not supposed to think about.

      What Handbag Mouth and her spouse offer are narrative that works at multiple levels, revolving around the core universal ethic of unfairness.

      I don’t expect the now-fragmented Deep State to do anything effective about this problem. I do expect with a better narrative that the people will do it themselves, the way they did in 1776 and in 1941, and each time the political system busted accumulated power in between.

      • greengiant says:

        Hope your perspective is more accurate than mine.  Trump and Mnuchin are small time crooks in comparison to the oligarchs and hegemony.  US history and WWII are examples of how the majority is amoral and complicit with ethnic genocide and oppression. While the 0.1 percent shrink the remainder of the pie the white male privilege across all classes decreases the most.  There is wealth only in the upper quartile and the 0.1 percent will follow Dillinger’s dictum,  that’s where the money is.  The upper quartile can lie to itself that it’s 401ks and real estate give them a seat at the table of theft wealth and oppression.  The government mandated and “free market” monopolies and theft look like they are going to crush them.

        • Rayne says:

          Why so thickheaded? Who, right now out of the 1% in the U.S. — that’s 3.2M people — can declare an economic emergency with a pen stroke? Mnuchin and Trump are equal sized to the rest of the members of the vampire squid empire for this reason alone, apart from their personal wealth.

          And who do you think they work for, in addition to themselves? It’s all of a piece — they’re all the same people who write dark money checks for Trump’s campaign(s) and the rest of the complicit GOP.

          As for WWI and WWII: you need to read more about what those wars did to capital. How many British peers were forced into bankruptcy or liquidated their estates? US is incredibly complicit when not outright guilty of many crimes, but looking ONLY at this lesson while ignoring others enables capital’s march.

  5. harpie says:

    The Mnuchins were in KY to meet with Mitch McConnell “in Louisville, Ky., […] for a discussion of tax policy.” [That’s the PC term for it, anyway.] [That’s from NYT article about McConnell’s supposed falling out with Trump.]
    And, then there’s this, from KY.com [emphasis added]:
     

    McConnell was part of a delegation of Kentucky politicians allowed inside the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox for the first time since 1974. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin initiated the visit, along with U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie and Gov. Matt Bevin.

    • harpie says:

      I can’t seem to even begin to express WHY this episode infuriates me so much. Maybe I’ll start with the fact that it happened in KY…

      There are surely many wealthy people in Kentucky, but there are also a LOT of poverty stricken residents. Especially in Appalachia [parts of other states as well] there are huge problems with opioid addiction and alcoholism, and other health issues-like the dangers related to coal mining as well as the long term health effects of that work and the anti-social, anti-environment methods of that industry.
       
      The people these citizens elect to represent them in government seem to all be working AGAINST the People’s interests, and through some cosmic fluke, one of those particular officials-Mitch McConnell, has an outsize [especially considering the number of votes he needs to be elected and re-elected!] effect on EVERY SINGLE PERSON who lives in this country.

      • Rayne says:

        I can’t think of a good reason for this road trip to Fort Knox except to meet with McConnell and draw attention away from the real reason for the trip.

        Oh, and scouting future movie locations. So pathetic.

        • harpie says:

          CREW has another idea:

          Did Steven Mnuchin & Louise Linton use a gov’t plane to get a better view of the eclipse?We FOIA’d to find out.

           

    • harpie says:

      In November, Ron Bash, a professor of Appalachian cultural studies at Western Carolina University, wrote an Opinion piece in the NYT: Appalachia’s Sacrifice, lamenting the fact that the “do not drink the water” signs, which had been above the water fountains at the Knott County Opportunity Center in Kentucky, [“which houses a community college, a Head Start program and the county library”] for TEN YEARS, had not received the amount of attention that those “Do not drink the water” signs in Flint, Michigan, did.
      He writes:
       

      The poisoning of Appalachia’s drinking water — from mining runoff, industrial waste, worn-out pipes, a whole confluence of causes — isn’t a new story. A 2009 New York Times article about the effects of tainted water on a community near Charleston, W.Va., details the effects of any contact with the water.

      • harpie says:

        This is part of a letter to the Editor about Rash’s Op-Ed from Richard W. Poeton, a retired scientist at the Environmental Protection Agency:

        […] The poisoning of Appalachia’s drinking water has been made with the connivance of elected officials in Appalachia, and with the support of the voters of Appalachia. Efforts to avoid environmental disaster have been routinely opposed not only by coal companies but also by elected officials in West Virginia and other states.
        Voters in those areas have supported those officials who promise short-term benefits (jobs) at the sacrifice of the environment. Those voters have chosen their own short term well-being over the future of their region and of their children.
        Time after time, they have voted for mountaintop removal over mountains, opted for promises of jobs over clean water. […] 

        It sounds, and IS harsh, and it’s true, but a look at the legislative history of McConnell et. al shows that those voters are being flim-flammed, hoodwinked etc.

    • harpie says:

      From that 9/12/2009 article [linked above]: Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Suffering:
       

      The Times obtained hundreds of thousands of water pollution records through Freedom of Information Act requests to every state and the E.P.A., and compiled a national database of water pollution violations that is more comprehensive than those maintained by states or the E.P.A. […] But stretched resources are only part of the reason polluters escape punishment. The Times’s investigation shows that in West Virginia and other states, powerful industries have often successfully lobbied to undermine effective regulation. 

    • harpie says:

      From 8/21: Trump’s Interior Department moves to stop mountaintop removal study; Charleston [WV] Gazetette-Mail 

       

      Trump administration officials have told the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to halt a review of the increased public health risks faced by Appalachian residents who live near mountaintop removal coal-mining sites, the academies revealed in a statement issued Monday. […] Last year, the OSM committed to providing more than $1 million for the study, in response to growing pressure from citizen groups and requests from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the state Bureau for Public Health in understanding studies by experts at West Virginia University and other institutions that found increased risks of birth defects, cancer, other illnesses and premature death among residents living near mountaintop removal sites in Southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky.

    • harpie says:

      From today: What Exxon Mobil Didn’t Say About Climate Change 

      In short, Exxon Mobil contributed quietly to climate science and loudly to raising doubts about it. We found that, accounting for reasonable doubt given the state of the science at the time of each document, roughly 80 percent of the company’s academic and internal papers acknowledged that climate change is real and human-caused. But 81 percent of their climate change advertorials in one way or another expressed doubt.

    • harpie says:

      In 2011, Harold Rogers Ky-5 introduced H.B. 960.
      The Official Title as Introduced [I kid you not!] ;

      To amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to clarify the authority of the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to disapprove specifications of disposal sites for the discharge of dredged or fill material, and to clarify the procedure under which a higher review of specifications may be requested.

      Short Title as Introduced: Mining Jobs Protection Act
      In the Senate, it was called S. 468, and Mitch McConnell was all for it:
      [From the Congressional Record] McConnell:

      Yet, as we are faced with a weakened economy and high unemployment, an overreaching Environmental Protection Agency in Washington is blocking new jobs for Kentuckians and Americans by waging a literal war on coal. […] More important, this legislation will allow my State and others to protect the coal and related industry jobs we already have and grow new ones in the future. […]

       
      Here’s his Senate-Mate Sen. Paul [KY]

      Mr. President, I rise in support of this legislation. I think this is a good first step to reining in an out-of-control, unelected bureaucracy. I think the EPA has gone way beyond its mandated duty and is now at the point of stifling industry in our country.

      • greengiant says:

        Does this affect all those PCB etc laden river bottom superfund sites dredge material in addition to mountain top mining?

        • harpie says:

          Do you mean the 2011 proposed law [above] or the suspension of the Mountain Top removal study further above? If it’s the former, I’m pretty sure that was never passed and signed into law…but the sponsors could point to having supported something called the “Mining Jobs Protection Act” to show how much they really care about their constituents.

          If it’s the latter, then I would say it’s just about the mountain top mining.

    • harpie says:

      Last November, McConnell had an opportunity to get a bipartisan Bill passed to actually DO something for coal miners:
      Retired Coal Miners Losing Their Safety Net; NYT; Editorial; 11/28/16 

      A bipartisan push [Miners Protection Act] is underway there [in the Senate] to rescue the failing pension and health benefits of thousands of retired union coal miners. […] [The Bill] was sent for floor action by a bipartisan 18-to-8 vote of the Senate Finance Committee in September. But it has run into trouble with the Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. […] Mr. McConnell blames the Obama administration for the industry’s troubles, insisting that its “ideological” regulatory policies have hurt miners more than they have helped the environment […] Mr. McConnell […] seems blind as well to a federal commitment to miners that dates back 70 years to the bare-knuckle unionism of the miners’ John L. Lewis. The plan has firm support from Democratic senators, but its success is in serious doubt, given Mr. McConnell’s stance. (He insists that the United Mine Workers’s endorsement of his opponent two years ago in a re-election race is “irrelevant” to his views.) He says he hopes “we can find a way forward” on the issue. Fast floor action to help thousands of coal miners is the obvious way forward.

      As it turns out, that Bill did NOT get passed, and only SOME of the protections are extended. For more, see: McConnell’s Dual Role In Miners’ Benefits Saga, WOUB [Ohio]; 5/3/17

      Retired miners will not lose their health benefits, as had been feared, thanks to last-minute action from Congress. However, Congress did not act on the miners’ faltering pension benefits fund, which supports some 43,000 retired miners in the Ohio Valley region.
      The health and pension benefits had been connected in legislation in Congress called the Miners Protection Act, but were split in the final push to include benefits protections in a federal spending bill.
       Both the successful extension of the health benefits and the failure to act on pensions have a lot to do with one key player: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. […] 

  6. harpie says:

    Oh, man, such a sticky WEB!
    CNN exclusive – Top Trump aide’s email draws new scrutiny in Russia inquiry  7:31 PM ET, Wed August 23, 2017
    About this article: Sarah Kendzior‏Verified account @sarahkendzior  
     

    Jeff Sessions’ former chief of staff [Dearborn] — now in Trump admin [deputy COS]– caught on email admitting to direct Trump campaign connections with Putin / Dearborn was who brought Carter Page into the Trump fold. A refresher on how all these Kremlin sychophants met [see link] / The person trying to connect Trump campaign with Putin is from West Virginia. Here’s Trump in WV two weeks ago, protesting too much: [see link] 

    • harpie says:

      Sarah Kendzior‏Verified account @sarahkendzior  Sarah Kendzior Retweeted ΞLΞVΞNTH
       

      Many folks are noting Russia and Trump family connections of West Virginia‘s [Governor, since 2017] Jim Justice; see @3L3V3NTH feed for more / Here’s an article on Justice’s extremely profitable coal deals with Russian company Mechel [WV Gazette link] / Interesting history of Mechel, oligarchs, and financial troubles in Russia for company deemed “too big to fail” [link] / Mechel oligarch Zyuzin became Putin pal after years on outs That’s who Justice dealt with: [link] / In 2016, Justice was one degree from Putin, since Zyuzin was back in Putin’s good graces. Justice could have possibly offered Trumps access. / Interesting that Putin chose to help Zyuzin when Mechel was flailing so badly [link] Stock soared after Trump win / Reason for stock soar after Trump win was 1) rumor of Tillerson appointment 2) possibility of sanctions drop. Putin still waiting on latter

      • harpie says:

        Sarah Kendzior:

        Adding to thread: Kremlin lackey Dana Rohrabacher met w/ Vladimir Yakunin, who helped do Mechel deal, in April 2015 [link]

    • harpie says:

      See this thread from ΞLΞVΞNTH‏ @3L3V3NTH 
      EPA, Jim Justice coal firms reach $6M deal over water pollution; WV Gazette; 9/30/16
       

      Court records filed as part of the settlement indicate the deal resolves more than 23,000 water pollution violations between 2009 and 2014 in West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama. […] The EPA announcement of the pollution settlement came the day after Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced his formal endorsement of Justice in the gubernatorial race. 

      In West Virginia, Trump Hails Conservatism and a New G.O.P. Governor NYT; 8/3/17

      Bragging about keeping his promises on immigration, the economy, the environment and crime, President Trump celebrated on Thursday with a raucous West Virginia crowd as the state’s Democratic governor [Jim Justice] announced that he will switch to the Republican Party. […] 

      • greengiant says:

        The original sale in 2009 appears to be part offshoring equity out of Russia and part getting some control of metallurgical coal supply to not be beholden to competitor steel companies.  This looks like a profitable deal for Mechel until coke coal prices fell in 2013.   Depending on source, prices fell from 25 to 75 percent by 2015.   https://www.eia.gov/state/seds/data.php?incfile=/state/seds/sep_prices/total/pr_tot_US.html&sid=US

        Not sure how much swag Justice got from Putin in the buy back.  It was worth a lot less in Feb 2015 than 550 million in 2009.  By comparison the major energy coal companies went bankrupt and wall street bought in at the low.

      • harpie says:

        Wow. Thanks, Rayne.
        Roger Sollenberger‏ @SollenbergerRC

        So: IF Justice is “WV,” links Dearborn, Justice, Gazprom, Page, Kislyak, Putin & Trump. Not quite an octopus, but flag it. A tentacle to go. / Sessions, of course. h/t @painter_nancy

        …feeling the need for a little timeline…
        Also, getting back to Louise Linton in a way: supposedly Justice [what an irony in that name] is the richest man in WV.

  7. Kathleen says:

    Dow Hits 21,000, Trump Touts Stock Market Success, But Many … – NPR
    http://www.npr.org/…/while-trump-touts-stock-market-many-americans-left-out-of-the-conver..

    Combine the uneven ownership rates and ownership amounts, and the total inequality in the stock market is astounding. As of 2013, the top 1 percent of households by wealth owned nearly 38 percent of all stock shares, according to research by New York University economist Edward Wolff.

    Indeed, nearly all of the stock ownership in the U.S. is concentrated among the richest. According to Wolff’s data, the top 20 percent of Americans owned 92 percent of the stocks in 2013.

    Put another way: Eighty percent of Americans together owned just 8 percent of all stocks.

     

Comments are closed.