Just a bit of the famous 1920s hit "Ain't We Got Fun" that figured in Robert Redford's version of The Great Gatsby, made from F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel about the excess and rot in the US of the Jazz Age. It seems to me to go very well with Paul Krugman's column today. In it he talks about the great wave of anger that is sweeping part of America--the anger of the rich.
"These are terrible times for many people in this country. Poverty, especially acute poverty, has soared in the economic slump; millions of people have lost their homes. Young people can’t find jobs; laid-off 50-somethings fear that they’ll never work again," he writes.
"Yet if you want to find real political rage — the kind of rage that makes people compare President Obama to Hitler, or accuse him of treason — you won’t find it among these suffering Americans. You’ll find it instead among the very privileged, people who don’t have to worry about losing their jobs, their homes, or their health insurance, but who are outraged, outraged, at the thought of paying modestly higher taxes."
This might be amusing, if it weren't so dangerous. As Krugman notes (with a wink to the supposed exchange between Fitzgerald and Hemingway*:) "You see, the rich are different from you and me: they have more influence." And, as they did in the 1920s when this song was written, they are going to try to write the agenda for the US, and for the world. Here are part of the lyrics:
"Bill collectors gather 'round and rather
Haunt the cottage next door
Men the grocer and butcher sent
Men who call for the rent
But within a happy chappy
And his bride of only a year
Seem to be so cheerful, here's an earful
Of the chatter you hear
Ev'ry morning, ev'ry evening
Ain't we got fun?
Not much money, Oh, but honey
Ain't we got fun?
The rent's unpaid dear
We haven't a bus
But smiles were made dear
For people like us
In the winter in the Summer
Don't we have fun
Times are bum and getting bummer
Still we have fun
There's nothing surer
The rich get rich and the poor get children
In the meantime, in between time
Ain't we got fun?"
* Fitzgerald reportedly said that "the rich are different from you and me," and Hemingway replied, "yes, they have more money." But the story is more complicated: it's what they thought, but never put in those words in one conversation, it seems.