Thursday, March 13. 2008
I keep looking for news and running into Elliot Spitzer. Consequently, I know more about the affair than I cared to. Not enough to talk about details, thank God. But enough to come to one conclusion: if this shows anything, it's that some people have more money than they need, more than is even good for them. Most likely, a lot of crimes in America wouldn't happen if poor people had more money (or cheaper drugs), but "structuring" (as Spitzer's particular money laundering offense seems to be called) is something that takes a lot of money to get into. As for the prostitution angle, the only thing noteworthy there is the money. I ran across a piece at Slate on the high-end sex market (lost the link), and again the striking thing is that this market exists only because people like Spitzer have the money to bid it up.
We live in a nation that takes for granted the notion that there's no limit to how much money a person can or should have. The keyword the Republicans keep using is "marginal tax rates" as if the upper margins of the rich should never be slowed down in their pursuit of ever greater riches. Robert Reich, in his Clinton administration memoir Locked in the Cabinet, had numerous stories about how when anyone suggested raising taxes on the rich they'd immediately be overruled by the exclamation "confiscatory": evidently we're not allowed to consider confiscatory taxes, even in the open-and-shut estate tax case. (Confiscatory estate taxes would help slow down the formation of an aristocracy of inherited wealth and the problems those elites entail.)
I'm not complaining about money in general. Like food, it's good up to a point, but unlike food, when it spoils few rich people have the good sense to throw it out. That seems to be Spitzer's problem in a nutshell. On the other hand, now at least he has something to do with his surplus money: pay lawyers.
One more little note. After two terms of George Bush and six previous years of Newt Gingrich, you'd think that Democrats would wise up to the notion that they need to live up to a higher standard of public service than the Republians have shown. This thing with Spitzer, and a similar recent brouhaha with KS Attorney General Paul Morrison, are really personal betrayals of people who have suffered so much under the Republicans. The politicians may think it's all about themselves, but it isn't. They represent people, and it's a disgrace when they pay them back like this.