No Golden Toilets; Liberals Are On the Case

The rules have changed for the über-rich: Brooks
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2009 12:04 PM CST
In this Sept. 15, 2008 file photo, then Merrill Lynch Chairman and CEO John Thain speaks during a news conference in New York.   (AP Photos/Bebeto Matthews, file)
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(Newser) – David Brooks is worried about the rich people. Consider poor John Thain. One minute, it was OK to spend $35,000 on a commode, the next it was an embarrassment, Brooks opines in the New York Times. The same shame could befall countless billionaires who don’t realize the rules have changed. In this post-TARP era, rich people don’t get to set their own norms—that falls to Ward 3, the part of DC where Democratic staffers, regulators, and journalists dwell.

Ward 3 people are quite nice, but they harbor a resentment toward three things: “cleavage, hunting, and dumb people who are richer than they are.” They’ve “nationalized extravagance and privatized Puritanism,” Brooks writes. The government can spend hundreds of billions on ill-advised bailouts, but if “Thain spends $1,500 on a wastepaper basket, all hell breaks loose.”