“We earned it”

Mitt Romney: Everything Ann [Romney] and I have, we earned the old-fashioned way.
@isomorphisms: Invading other countries?
@isomorphisms: No, no, he must have meant farming.
@isomorphisms: Or taxing some serfs?
@isomorphisms: Oh, wait, it’s obvious. Owning the means of production. Yes, quite.

I guess this is the flip side of “poor Americans == temporarily embarrassed millionaires”. The rich need a rags-to-riches self-narrative as well.

They can’t be satisfied with: “Was born into a good family. Did not become Paris Hilton”.

@isomorphisms: What’s not meritorious about “I was born into wealth and worked hard?” I think that reflects quite well on one’s parents for not raising a party brat and on one’s self for having the discipline and morals to avoid that temptation.

@isomorphisms: So why does it have to be “It was all me, nobody helped me ever” ?

@isomorphisms: Obviously you couldn’t have built your business without your customers, partners, employees, vendors, etc.

And just as obviously, you can’t make money in finance without a well-functioning legal system. Imagine trying to do trades with someone “in the wild”, without paper contracts.
1: OK, you want this claim to 38% of my corp? That’ll be 987e3 shekels.
2: Dafuq? It was 900e3 shekels this morning.
1: Well, the price has changed.
2: (punches #1)

And yeah, I’m obviously joking about being able to deal with sophisticated paper claims without a government enforcing the rules of the game–which it does founded on various beliefs and Lockean tacit social agreements &c. Sure, you could still do crude finance (lending) at cost with a handful of goons rather than a debtor’s prison / debt collectors / torts. But to be able to trade claims to sub-streams of payments (interest-only CDO’s), paper claims of shares in paper companies with multi-national citizenship, and adjudicate disputes over such, requires a LOT of social agreement and a LOT of distance from the Hobbesian brutish primitive.

Anyone who made money in finance or insurance couldn’t have done it, or at least not nearly as good of spreads, without a legal system backing them up, and social norms reinforcing that so most people “behave” (show up to work, don’t destroy property, pay their bills) without needing the stick fairly often. I mean honestly, how could something like an LBO even make conceptual sense outside a “sophisticated” society with all our familiar concepts of money, debt, property, paper claims, courts, duties, saving, lending, owing, owning, and so on?


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