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Anger.

Max Keiser doesn't like Goldman Sachs very much.

Over the top? Maybe a bit. But it's a lot less over the top than all those commentators and analysts who were assuring us that everything was okay in late 2007. And they still have their shows and their columns and their general respectability. Meanwhile, Keiser's assault on Goldman Sachs will be Internet samizdat, much like Matt Taibbi's article on the company. And why? It's not because the substance is out of bounds. It's because the tone is. Keiser is angry. And as Mike Rorty writes, we're uncomfortable with the language of anger:

Is there room for outrage? I always find this frustrating in economic technocratic talk, where outrage/disgust/shaming is dampened by having to focus in terms of “bad incentives.” There’s a schizophrenia in the way we talk about this, that capitalism on one hand is a benevolent invisible hand guiding us all together, and also amoral tiger who of course was going to rip your throat out if you don’t lock its cage properly.

Getting a little hyperbolic, it’s like someone has broken into our house and is looting everything in sight. How do we “set up his incentives” so that he leaves without the treasury in tow? Setting up the terms for discourse in economic rationality speak is only going to allow us to answer the question of “why didn’t we lock the door?” Good question, of course. But we have problems right now that rightfully deserve shock and anger.


By Ezra Klein  |  July 17, 2009; 6:12 PM ET
Categories:  Solutions  
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Comments

Yeah, we need some more of that Max Steiner stuff. We are living in an age of prodigious crimes -- bloodsucking on a scale never seen or even imagined before. And the Obama crew stands around powdering its nose and taking its cut.

Posted by: SqueakyRat | July 17, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Oh all right, Keiser not Steiner. Whatever, right on.

Posted by: SqueakyRat | July 17, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Ezra but we're fine with anger as long as its in the service of rich white men. We just had an entire Supreme Court nomination hearing that was based upon making sure the anger of old white men was heard.

Posted by: endaround | July 17, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

nope - anger no good. We've seen too much of this shouting, and interrupting people. It just doesn't belong in the public debate.

Never mind the guy may be right on, angry people just throw their credibility to the winds. So we lose a potential commentator, and have to keep looking for rational debate.

For example: what could be more challenging than Simon Johnson's early "banana-republic" claims, and yet it would be hard to find more dignified and plausible discourse.

Let the commentary be dignified and follow some rules of order and reason. We're the ones who get angry, not the presenters.

Posted by: wapomadness | July 17, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

O'Reilly and Lou Dobbs have made fortunes out of anger.

Posted by: glewiss | July 17, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Choices:

- 'rational discourse' that doesn't name names and cite crimes and greed (no change forthcoming)

- anger that leads to change (Ross Perot)

- pitchforks and riots that overthrows the oligopoly

This rational discourse stuff leads to Ben Nelson do nothingism. When the problem is extreme, you need to grab people's attention.

And yes, GS are 'scum'

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | July 17, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

It'd kind of funny how we have such a need to be decorous in behavior. Call a spade a spade. Most Americans dont feel so happy about what is going on, and most feel no compunction to stay docile.

Now rhetoric needs to be turned into action. But look at the 1930s and the real civil rights movement - not the whitewashing of Mr. Luther King - but the King that was assassinated, they didnt always operate in pleasantries.

Posted by: dside | July 17, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

You can get angry when the people you're angry at are powerless. Black people suffering after Katrina. People who are uninsured. Immigrants.

But when it's super-rich guys on Wall Street, there is no end to lackeys in well-made suits who will defend them.

Stockholm Syndrome is right. And frankly, I think a LOT more people need to be saying that these guys are criminals. They are WORSE than terrorists. They have harmed many, many, many more Americans.

People are homeless. They have been wiped out. Their neighbors have lost tens of thousands in equity. People who bought houses when the market was high are DOOMED, through no fault of their own. We're about to face a generation of higher taxes to pay off these epic collapses.

And Goldman Sachs and all the other guys left standing are laughing at us. They are crippling even the most rudimentary attempts to prevent this kind of meltdown from happening again. Because we just proved to them that they personally have NOTHING to fear from collapse. They are playing with the house's money.

Expect it to get worse.

Posted by: theorajones1 | July 17, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Yes, the dreaded Scylla and Charybdis of anger and populism... There is a dearth of rational outrage on American TV. Sometimes reality provokes outrage. If you want to deny reality...deny or marginalize rational outrage.

There are faux or permanent merchants of outrage...but they don't base much of their anger on current reality. They are expressing "characterological" anger or anger as theater.

Keiser sounds for real. Good for him.

Posted by: michaelterra | July 18, 2009 3:22 AM | Report abuse

I think we will see an increase in anger and rage concurrently with the increase in unemployment among the masses and bonus payments to the people who flamed out the economy and experienced no consequences....

Posted by: anne3 | July 19, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Ya gotta get the financiers' incentives right or else they won't do the right thing? I got your incentives -- right here. Screw this up one more time and you can kiss your freedom, your mansions, your yachts, your private jets, and your bank accounts goodbye forever.

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | July 20, 2009 12:36 AM | Report abuse

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