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Josh Brown takes the JPM CEO to school:

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Dear Jamie Dimon,

I hope this note finds you well.

I am writing to profess my utter disbelief at how little you seem to understand the current mood of the nation. In a story at Bloomberg today, you and a handful of fellow banker and billionaire “job creators” were quoted as believing that the horrific sentiment directed toward you from virtually all corners of America had something to do with how much money you had. I’d like to take a moment to disabuse you of this foolishness.

America is different than almost every other place on earth in that its citizenry reveres the wealthy and we are raised to believe that we can all one day join the ranks of the rich. The lack of a caste system or visible rungs of society’s ladder is what separates our empire from so many fallen empires throughout history. In a nation bereft of royalty by virtue of its republican birth, the American people have done what any other resourceful people would do – we’ve created our own royalty and our royalty is the 1%. Not only do we not “hate the rich” as you and other em-bubbled plutocrats have postulated, in point of fact, we love them. We worship our rich to the point of obsession. The highest-rated television shows uniformly feature the unimaginably fabulous families of celebrities not to mention the housewives (real or otherwise) of the rich. We don’t care what color they are or what religion they practice or where in the country they live or what channel their show is on – if they’re rich, we are watching.

When Derek Jeter was toyed with by the New York Yankees when it came time for him to renew his next hundred million dollar contract, the people empathized with Derek Jeter. Sure, this disagreement essentially took place between one of the wealthiest organizations in the country and one of the wealthiest private citizens – but we rooted for Jeter to get his money. Nobody begrudged him a penny of it or wanted a piece of it or decried the fact that he was luckier than the rest of us. In the American psyche, Jeter was one of the good guys who was deservedly successful. He was one of us and an example of hard work paying off.

Likewise, when Steve Jobs died, he did so with more money than you or any of your “job alliance” buddies – ten times more than most of you, in fact. And upon his death the entire nation went into mourning. We set up makeshift shrines to his brilliance in front of Apple stores from coast to coast. His biography flew off the shelves and people bought Apple products and stock shares in his honor and in his memory. Does that strike you as the action of a populace that hates success?

No, Jamie, it is not that Americans hate successful people or the wealthy. In fact, it is just the opposite. We love the success stories in our midst and it is a distinctly American trait to believe that we can all follow in the footsteps of the elite, even though so few of us ever actually do.

So, no, we don’t hate the rich. What we hate are the predators.

What we hate are the people who we view as having found their success as a consequence of the damage their activities have done to our country. What we hate are those who take and give nothing back in the form of innovation, convenience, entertainment or scientific progress. We hate those who’ve exploited political relationships and stupidity to rake in even more of the nation’s wealth while simultaneously driving the potential for success further away from the grasp of everyone else.

Here in New York, we hated watching real estate and financial services elitists drive up the prices of everything from affordable apartments to martinis in midtown with the reckless speculation that would eventually lead to mass layoffs, rampant joblessness and the wreckage of so many retirement dreams. No one ever asked the rest of us if we minded, it just happened. I’m sure people across the country can tell similar stories.

So please, do us all a favor and come to the realization that the loathing you feel from your fellow Americans has nothing to do with your “success” or your “wealth” and it has everything to do with the fact that your wealth and success have come at a cost to the rest of us. No one wants your money or opportunities, what they want is the same chance that their parents had to attain these things for themselves. You are viewed, and rightfully so, as part of the machine that has removed this chance for many – and that is what they hate.

America hates unjustified privilege, it hates an unfair playing field and crony capitalism without the threat of bankruptcy, it hates privatized gains and socialized losses, it hates rule changes that benefit the few at the expense of the many and it hates people who have been bailed out and don’t display even the slightest bit of remorse or humbleness in the presence of so much suffering in the aftermath.

Nobody hates your right to make money, Jamie. They hate how you and certain others have made it.

Don’t be confused on this score for a moment longer.

Category: Bailouts, Psychology, Really, really bad calls

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

109 Responses to “Dear Jamie Dimon,”

  1. Fantastic job Josh — you really nailed what much of the country is feeling in this.

    The billionaire clowns quoted in the Bloomberg piece ought to be ashamed of themselves . . .

  2. YouthInAsia says:

    Hear, hear!

  3. wsquared says:

    Dear Jamie,
    You know what I want for Christmas? A flip chart, with you doing the flipping, as to how many jobs you created personally by earning 23 million dollars per year. Seriously. Can you show me how many jobs that 23 mill was worth in employment, as opposed to say, had you only earned 10 million.
    How many jobs did that 13 million translate to? Did your 13 mill translate to greater than 13 million in downstream jobs. With all of the data, and minions at your command, surely this Chrismas gift to America’s 99% isn’t such an outrageous request.
    Can you flip to chart one and show me the money, as Cuba Gooding famously asked of Tom Cruise.
    Is that really such a ridiculous Christmas present to ask for. PROOF OF YOUR WORTH?
    WSQUARED

  4. zyzzyva57 says:

    Spot on observations to Jamie!
    Excellent
    It is so, so sad that the handlers of Jamie or Warren Buffett and others of the Ruling Class will never see your letter to get a feel for why we of the non-Ruling Class can get so pissed we vote in and continually tolerate proudly ignorant politicians of both parties and political persuasions
    There are days I wish Jamie and Warren and Obama and the like would sneak off to a private computer and come across a letter such as yours, or in the case of Jamie and Warren, they would sneak off and just shop at the Walmarts as ordinary folk
    But, part of being of the Ruling Class they won’t, so they will continue to exist in a filtered world created by their handlers

  5. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    We also don’t like hoarders of wealth, conspicuous greed, hubris, airs of entitlement or aristocracy, self-enrichment by fraud or by predatory criminal acts committed under the color of law, hypocrisy, intellectual dishonesty, or whining like a sniveling little bitch.

  6. V says:

    Barry, lets have a whip-round to raise some funds and get this on front page of WSJ as a ‘paid-ad’ !?

  7. Moss says:

    Josh has certainly set the record straight. A great rebuttal to the shallow and arrogant argument put forth in the Bloomberg piece. It is important to call them out.

  8. jd351 says:

    @ V Says: I’m in for $100.00 to support and ad.

    Great job Josh!!!!!

  9. phb says:

    Great read! I liked this piece by Josh too: http://www.thereformedbroker.com/2011/12/21/the-return-of-lee-munson/

    Be sure to read the prologue from 2001 for context.

  10. econimonium says:

    This would be an awesome paid ad! I’d donate in a hot second!

  11. number2son says:

    Same here, econimonium. Everyone in America needs to reads this as it hits the nail squarely on the head.

  12. dinotrac says:

    YUP, YUP, YUP!!

    And that is how the Republicans are completely blowing it now.

    Their opposition to the payroll tax cut isn’t an unreasonable position to take in and of itself, but you can’t couple that with their incessant drumbeat of breaks for billionaires and complete refusal to offer anything up to help the Main Street brigade without struggling to redefine the heights of idiocy.

    Here’s a hint, guys:

    When engaging in blatant class warfare, it’s good to remember that the 1% may have the money, but the 99% have the votes. The rich may throw great parties, buy the voters are the ones who get you invited.

  13. krice2001 says:

    Mmmm… Nailed it, Josh.

  14. Chad says:

    I concur with the others…excellent job. Short, sweet, and nails the point.

    Screw the WSJ (though, I would donate). Let’s get this thing viral, which would give it a much greater reach than the WSJ.

  15. Moe says:

    I hate the fact that he failed and yet he won and I was forced to help him win – and win BIG!.
    It’s all quite odd and very unAmerican.

  16. Raleighwood says:

    To extract so much capital/resources/jobs from the American system for obscene levels of private wealth while at the same time destroying America’s economy, and then actually claiming this scenario as “capitalism” and believing yourself to be an American success story not deserving of criticism is nothing less than evil and/or insane.

    Way to go Josh.

  17. Bill Wilson says:

    Great job by Josh Brown.

    Yesterday, the link to this article was titled:
    “Dear Jamie Dimon, We Don’t Hate The Rich, We Hate You”

    I thought that summed it up well.

  18. albeez says:

    What Congress and a lot of American’s need to understand is that it is NOT most CEO’s and not all the wealthy that create jobs. Most CEO’s got rich by diluting shareholder equity by “aligning their interests with the shareholders” when their Board of Director buddies gift them tons and tons of stock. Only CEO’s that started the company are job creators, like Steve Jobs. Not all the other overpaid CEO’s. A better way to align CEO compensation with shareholder interests is to allow clawbacks and stop diluting shareholder equity by giving a CEO 1% or more of the company.

  19. wally says:

    I cannot completely agree with Josh. To me, anybody who has hoarded that much wealth has inherently denied others or taken from them, with a list of exceptions – and there are some – that is vanishingly small. Almost always, the path to such wealth has included monopoly abuse, tax ‘creativity’, government exceptionalism or a scam of one form of other. Once that wealth is acquired there is a further social problem: what do you do now, sit on it? That is, after all, the exact opposite of the notion that the wealthy are ‘job creators’. Obviously that is not true… our economy works only when money spins around and around, not when it sits. That’s why the current growth of income disparity is a structural problem.

  20. Concerned Neighbour says:

    @Petey Wheatstraw.

    Especially the “whining like a little bitch”!

  21. Moe says:

    My revenge?
    I’m gonna watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” about 6 times and relish in George Bailey foiling Old Man Potter!

  22. Ben says:

    You lost me at “Downtown Josh Brown.”

  23. orvil tootenbacher says:

    the need to thoroughly articulate the obvious is another very legitimate reason for contempt for dimon, cooperman and the deluded sanctimonious “job creators”.

    please. i have much more respect for the candid i-got-mine-fuck-you type.

  24. orvil tootenbacher says:

    the need to thoroughly articulate the obvious is another very legitimate reason for contempt for dimon, cooperman and the deluded sanctimonious “job creators”.

    please. i have much more respect for the candid i-got-mine-f-you type.

  25. CANDollar says:

    I can’t speak for everybody here in Canada but it often seems we have mixed feelings about the rich, perhaps because we have supports for the less rich and the poor such as universal health care. Rich or not you still have to wait in a triage line at the hospital emergency department or for a surgery.

  26. theexpertisin says:

    Dear Jamie;

    If only you would re-establish your gravitas with the Democratic Party, all would be forgiven.

    You see, Jamie, it’s not what you do, it’s the company you keep that determines the level of criticism you receive.
    The size of your contribution will assist our re-election committee assess the level of media scrutiny and public attacks by our dedicated minions in the field you and your company will face through this election cycle and beyond.

    Our committee wants you to be OUR penitent fat cat.

    Happy Holidays,

    Dave in Chicago

    Dear Jamie;

    Our committee has been monitoring the criticism you have been subjected to in the media and elsewhere since you began to criticize President Obama. We fully understand that those who have reached the peak of their profession want to remain on top.

    Our PAC needs you support. While we have no control over the media, and have long ago disavowed the intellectual gaggle and others dependent upon your tax dollars for their largesse. we can insure that you maintain your position and influence when we take the White House in January of 2013. As you know, access is important.

    Merry Christmas,

    Karl in Texas

  27. sss says:

    I think it’s appropriate that Josh’s last name is so similar to clown, because that’s the only type of author capable of penning such a ridiculous article. All he’s done is parrot the convenient, feel good mantra of the day… laying blame for our current financial mess at the feet of Jamie Dimon and certain un-named “financial elitists”. His view conveniently enables us to deflect personal responsibility for this mess and attribute it instead to a handful of villains. As if 20 years of low interest rates, easy money, leverage fueled consumption and a culture of greed had nothing to do with it. Greed, like the politicians that advocated brain dead populist policies like universal home ownership purely for political gain; like home buyers and credit card addicts that took on more debt than they could afford on terms they didn’t take the time to understand; like the mortgage brokers that pushed unsuitable buyers into homes they couldn’t afford in order to fatten their wallets; like the members of our media that sensationalize life for a profit; like financial commentators that push investment recommendations without accountability; like many of us that invested our life savings in the riskiest of securities and expected a guaranteed return; like countless others of us that made and continue to make aggressive bets on the future based on our perceived understanding of the past; and like the millions of us that every day take more from our world than we give back. Sure, go ahead and blame Jamie Dimon for all of that. As long as we have A-Rod, LeBron, Alec Baldwin and the Housewives of Beverly Hills to look up to.

  28. rootless says:

    A lot of cheering here for this heavily moralistic text.

    I guess I’m about the only one here who does not agree with this letter. As if financial and economic crisis of this system and the increasing disparity between the rich and the rest were caused by some character flaws and moral failures of Jamie Dimon and some of the “1%” super rich and the politicians to whom they are connected, who supposedly all behaved badly. And if they hadn’t behaved badly, in some idealistic fantasy about how capitalism should normatively look like, all of this wouldn’t have happened.

    Attributing financial and economic crises to the subjective flaws of some people or groups of people as the alleged cause won’t lead to any understanding of reality. It only makes the ones who need someone personally to blame feel better, when the real world, which is driven by impersonal economic forces that produce certain outcomes with regularity, generates misery and deviates from some idealized view on capitalism where this doesn’t happen.

  29. jd351 says:

    @ rootless what part of this statement do you not understand:

    “America hates unjustified privilege, it hates an unfair playing field and crony capitalism without the threat of bankruptcy, it hates privatized gains and socialized losses, it hates rule changes that benefit the few at the expense of the many and it hates people who have been bailed out and don’t display even the slightest bit of remorse or humbleness in the presence of so much suffering in the aftermath.”

    maybe you should change your name to “clueless”

  30. hammerandtong2001 says:

    @ rootless

    OK, appreciate your view.

    But consider: Real people – human beings – did decide to socialize losses during the panic. They did decide to give bankers $billions in bonuses, even as the nation sank into near-depression.

    Those decisions were not irreversible economic forces. And those decisions created a demarcation in society.

    .

  31. Raleighwood says:

    which is driven by impersonal economic forces that produce certain outcomes with regularity, generates misery and deviates from some idealized view on capitalism where this doesn’t happen.

    I do not have an “idealized” view of either monopoly or crony capitalism. Without risk of failure success is deception.

  32. rootless says:

    @jd351:

    Did I hit a nerve?

    What makes you think I don’t understand this statement? This statement exactly confirms what I said. With the backdrop of some normative view how capitalism should ideally look like, things are listed where reality deviates from this ideal world. And you have the moralistic accusation about the bad behavior in there as well.

    And who is blamed for this deviation of reality from the ideal world?

  33. rootless says:

    Raleighwood, you wrote:

    I do not have an “idealized” view of either monopoly or crony capitalism.

    I suppose you have an ideal of capitalism in mind where there is no monopoly or cronyism, don’t you?

    Without risk of failure success is deception.

    Which is a purely moralistic statement.

  34. Moe says:

    @jd351

    I don’t get our point. Is it holding people to a standard of behaviour that you object to?

    Corruption is never going awayand will always be there. Why is it wrong to call people to the carpet.
    I’ve been corrupt in my life – but my corruption didn’t cost people jobs and garner me multi-millions in pay.

  35. beaufou says:

    I agree with rootless, you cannot pin the reality of a fundamentally flawed system on an individual, Dimon and others are an extension of this flaw, not its root.

  36. The Window Washer says:

    I’m in on the WSJ ad.

  37. hairry01 says:

    So basically this article is saying “We do not hate the rich. We do hate rich bankers (because all bankers exploit people and do not really create value for society.)”

    It would have been a lot simpler to write it this way, although the exaggerated caricature of the argument would have been easier to see.

  38. Edoc says:

    Yes, I’d happily contribute to printing Josh’s letter in a WSJ ad as well.

  39. rootless says:

    @hammerandtong2001, you wrote:

    OK, appreciate your view.

    Thanks you. Not everyone does, obviously, although it’s getting kind of boring if everyone just agrees with everyone, isn’t it?

    But consider: Real people – human beings – did decide to socialize losses during the panic. They did decide to give bankers $billions in bonuses, even as the nation sank into near-depression.

    I agree, there isn’t just one way. There are also alternatives within the system. Some choices make things how they are even worse. Although I find the moral outrage about the ones who got the taxpayer handouts, because they were ungrateful for it, kind of pointless.

    But let’s assume the ones who made the decisions about bank bailouts etc. had chosen an alternative path of action, one where banks had been allowed to fail and the socialization of losses had been less than they have been in reality, I don’t think it would have changed the social realities in this country (and the same is true everywhere else, for the matter of fact) substantially.

  40. Moe says:

    Point out to me where the whole mess is being pinned on Dimon – either I missed it or you are missing the big picture (pun intended).

    So, I’m to believe he is some hapless chap caught up in events he cannot control?…events that have taken him from failure to millionaire many times over?

  41. beaufou says:

    “Dear Jamie Dimon,”

  42. Moe says:

    silly guy – not who the letter is addressed to – but where it’s all pinned on him…try again and focus hard.

  43. Well said, Josh! No one admires reckless and self-serving behaviour at the expense of others…it’s not something that I’d aspire to emulate. My understanding of true capitalism is a fair exchange of value for value…something that Apple Inc, through Steve Jobs, did well.

  44. beaufou says:

    I wasn’t talking about “the whole mess”, I was following rootless’s point about “some idealistic fantasy about how capitalism should normatively look like”.
    In that logic, crony or not, capitalism is concentrating wealth at the top.

  45. Moe says:

    I agree with your point on capitalism!

    But, we’re a constitutional republic. Constitutional republics attempt to weaken the threat of majoritarianism and protect dissenting individuals and minority groups from the “tyranny of the majority” by placing checks on the power of the majority of the population.

    – if we are defined as just a Capitalist State – then yes, I’d agree with you in total.
    Respectfully.

  46. rootless says:

    Moe, you wrote:

    silly guy – not who the letter is addressed to – but where it’s all pinned on him…try again and focus hard.

    I think you have created a red herring here, and beaufou has stepped into your trap, since no one said it is all pinned only on Jamie Dimon. Also beaufou said, “Dimon and others”.

    Do you disagree, when I say it is pinned on the “bad” flock of the “1%” super rich, and Dimon is displayed as exemplary representing those?

    Further above you asked (and I suppose you made a mistake to whom you addressed the question):

    I don’t get our point. Is it holding people to a standard of behaviour that you object to?

    And what “standard of behaviour” would that be that is supposed to be a generally valid one? I can’t object to something about which I don’t even really know what it is. And I also can’t follow such a standard. There is a standard of behavior the framework of which is given by the existing law. What other generally valid standard of behavior am I supposed to follow?

  47. rootless says:

    My understanding of true capitalism is a fair exchange of value for value…something that Apple Inc, through Steve Jobs, did well.

    Since Steve Jobs is presented here, also in the letter, as the shining example of the “good” capitalist, in comparison to the ones who supposedly have behaved badly, like Dimon and others.

    Steve Jobs did not create the value from which his wealth was made, either. The labor force that has been employed by his company did.

  48. notakid says:

    root said:

    “one where banks had been allowed to fail and the socialization of losses had been less than they have been in reality”

    You do realize that many many banks DID fail, correct?

    People have a right(moral or not) to suspect the choices made in those failures.

    Mr. Dimon should not be complaining that someone objects to his moral right to loot the system via gvt backstops that many other do not receive.

    To bring morality into the game at this late stage is an obvious dodge.

    I don’t see how you can separate Mr. Dimon’s morality in making his money from others choice to object to the way he made it viewing same through their sense of the moral .

    After all, the system is trying to create rules to enforce a certain level of morality so that the market can work.
    Anyone has the perfect right to try to enforce their moral laws on the system.

    Bringing morality of Josh into this is an obvious dodge imo.

  49. notakid says:

    Now you are really reaching , what would that force of Jobs have been doing without his direction as to the products they were to produce.

    I sense you are just throwing crap against the wall now.

  50. notakid says:

    p.s.

    I don’t own a single I product of any type and never will.

  51. Moe says:

    Rootless

    You are correct about baufou – my bad.

    I’m just havng a heck of time following/determining what you point is. Is it your stance that we should just keep quiet and let the wealth concentrate to the point where one or two are holding it all, because that is the kind of country we live in?

    When you say it is pinned on the “bad” flock of the “1%” super rich, and Dimon is displayed as exemplary representing those : I guess agree with the first part of the sentence but you lose me on the 2nd part. Blankfein and many olthers have been dished here and elsewhere…

    again, respectfully submitted.

  52. Moe says:

    I should elaborate; I do not put full blame on the 1% – Washington should (and hopefully will soon) get theirs, as well as the rating agencies,Fannie, Freddie,Barney “Manzier” Frank …it’s a long list

  53. ToNYC says:

    Good show: Enron morphed into JPMorgan, with the Federal reserve existentially bound to debt-based currency. That farce is winding down as Voltaire would tear it to shreds far better, but the great de-lever can only end with fubar local actions but best with completely transparent syndication of non debt-based currency rather than that fiat-by-fail private corporations distribute such interest to themselves.

  54. rootless says:

    notakid, you wrote:

    You do realize that many many banks DID fail, correct?

    Yes, I’m aware of it. Since you seem to want to quibble about the not fully precise phrasing, read my statement as “one where the bailed out banks had been allowed to fail …”

    People have a right(moral or not) to suspect the choices made in those failures.

    And I have the right to comment on this. I do not recall to have questioned the rights of anyone.

    I don’t see how you can separate Mr. Dimon’s morality in making his money from others choice to object to the way he made it viewing same through their sense of the moral .

    I’m not clear to what you refer here what I have supposedly said.

    After all, the system is trying to create rules to enforce a certain level of morality so that the market can work.

    It’s called the law.

    Anyone has the perfect right to try to enforce their moral laws on the system.

    There are no private “moral laws”. There is the law, which is generally valid and which provides the framework for what is allowed to do and what not. Everything else is just subjective moral points of view. Every pickpocket has its own morals.

    Bringing morality of Josh into this is an obvious dodge imo.

    Well, Josh is the one who presented his letter here. Dimon did not present his stupidities here. So I comment on Josh’s letter.

    I’m not supposed to comment on what I think is wrong with the moralistic approach, because Dimon has another moral point of view from which he thinks he hasn’t done anything wrong?

  55. notakid says:

    Root

    We can gloss over the point by point as that just goes off into the woods where the Mr dimon of the world wish to steer it.

    The questions of who failed and didn’t are the very questions at point here.
    That’s where the moral outrage is and that is exactly here:

    Lehman/Wamu/Aig —- all these were instances were Mr Dimon was made whole using “lawfull” gvt force when there should have been loss.

    Other banks that failed did not get bailed on the same basis, even though the were under the “same lawfull” regime but rather they took their loss.

    In fact as we both know the “laws” were bent or ignored in favor of JPM and others of their “importance”.

    Thus the moral outrage.

  56. notakid says:

    for Dimon to complain of morality under that system of benefits kind of reminds me of Sandusky and his “I was just showing them how to use the soap”.

  57. rootless says:

    Moe, you wrote:

    I’m just havng a heck of time following/determining what you point is. Is it your stance that we should just keep quiet and let the wealth concentrate to the point where one or two are holding it all, because that is the kind of country we live in?

    You don’t have to stay quiet, necessarily. My point of view is that the moralistic approach is futile. It does not address the root cause of this phenomenon, since it attributes it to some subjectively caused failures and flaws of the “1%” or parts of them, and the politicians with whom they are allied. The concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, and the tendency of making small differences (in income, wealth, access to resources in the world. It’s a worldwide thing, since it’s a world economy with world markets) in to big ones, is a systemic feature of capitalism, not the result of a subjectively caused conspiracy of the super-rich, (financial) corporations, and corrupt politicians.

    So why would you want to choose an approach that doesn’t really help with understanding the causes? As a first step to be able to change things, eventually.

  58. 4horsemen says:

    Wow. Who invited the philosophy major into the conversation! Things are clearly starting to read like an artsy-fartsy class debate. Or a conversation in a coffee house on poetry night after smoking joints in the car.

    Who fucking cares about all the gray areas of debate? What is not up for debate is that value was (and is still being) destroyed en masse. The destruction was caused by very specific areas of the economy and government. The destruction was felt by some much more than others, and by some – not at all. There are very obvious culprits in this mess, and while we can try to deflect responsibility via some esoteric social and philosophical concepts, it is clear that a majority can recognize the culpability of the 1%. We are, in fact, a democratic nation, after all.

  59. rootless says:

    notakid, you wrote:

    In fact as we both know the “laws” were bent or ignored in favor of JPM and others of their “importance”.

    It’s not a proven fact. It’s an opinion, even if it is a widely shared view.

    And even if this was proven as a fact, it doesn’t change anything about what I said about the moralistic approach and attributing the causes of financial and economic crisis and the increasing income and wealth disparity to morally flawed behavior of the “bad” flock of the “1%” in alliance with corrupt politicians. And explaining what feeds the moral outrage doesn’t mean that the moralistic approach asks the right questions.

  60. HarleyHoward says:

    I couldn’t agree more! It is amazing how the Entrenched Elites (financial and political) cannot comprehend why we the people despise them as they continue their vampire like crony capitalism. They have taken over the body of free enterprise and corrupted and sucked the blood out of it and all the rest of us.

    To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, it is time to Reform or Revolt! It is truly amazing how much like the French aristocracy prior to the revolution our crony capitalists have become!

    Common Sense from the Heartland – http://howardwemple.com

  61. martin66 says:

    I’m in for $100 for the WSJ ad. One of the best posts on your site all year. Absolutely right.

  62. Bob A says:

    i agree about jamie dimon but it’s utterly amazing to me how people idolize steve jobs who was as arrogant and greedy as any of them

  63. For awhile now, every time I get a credit card offer I open it fold up all the papers and stuff them back in the return envelope and send it off with the word “unsubscribe” written on the outside. I think now I’ll print out some copies of this letter to include and add a juicy PS:

  64. rootless says:

    4horsemen,

    has someone already mentioned anti-intellectualism as one of the problems?

  65. hankest says:

    Dimon made tons of cash when the “sub prime” scams were bubbling along. When it all collapsed, he got to keep his gains, and his company got bailed out by uncle sucker. Now he’s whining because people are saying mean things about him.

    Morals schmorals, the guy is pathetic.

  66. hankest says:

    “…has someone already mentioned anti-intellectualism as one of the problems?”

    I think you mean anti-psuedo-intellectualism.

    carry on Socrates.

  67. rootless says:

    notakid, I almost missed what you wrote here:

    Now you are really reaching , what would that force of Jobs have been doing without his direction as to the products they were to produce.

    Well, if this is supposed to refute my statement that is was the labor force of Apple that created Steve Jobs’ wealth, are you claiming he also would have had this wealth w/o this labor force that produced all the products that were sold on the market and that generated the profits for Steve Jobs he got via his ownership of the means of production?

    You apparently think the masses were w/o sense and direction in life w/o people like Jobs in this society who give the existence of the masses meaning, don’t you? And do you think he administrated the production all by himself? For those functions, he also had his employed staff.

    What about another “good” capitalist, Warren Buffet? What do you think the sources of his wealth are, if not the labor of the many people who work for all the companies he owns?

  68. ashpelham2 says:

    I’m gonna be a dissenter here, and say I hate personal attacks like this. I know why Mr. Dimon is being called out, made exclusive, or made an example of. But the mere fact that he, a wealthy private individual, is being named and having an editorial “letter” written to him, tells me that this is a personal attack. It is not meant to underline a problem, or determine a solution. It’s meant for entertainment, written by someone using excessive sarcasm, to rally the cry. I’m not buying into it.

    No one picks on any individual that isn’t wealthy, that isn’t a public figure, just because of their wealth. We pick on people based on their actions, or lack of actions, and primarily, because 24/7 cable media tells us to. I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon accusing Mr. Dimon of some conspiracy against America.

    Americans need to look in the mirror at their problems. Most of what happens is because we become overly confident in our jobs and the value of our money/savings/investments. We bought into the hype created by someone else, but we nevertheless made the conscience decision on our own. While Mr. Dimon has used his influence personally to attempt to change government policy, which is bad, he isn’t the only one.

  69. bear_in_mind says:

    @rootless: Ah, there’s a strawman on every corner. To assert key participants are independent from, and feckless over, the system which they actively manipulate, is to surrender all sense of reason. Sorry, but I’ll choose Aristotle, Locke and Santayana over Ayn Rand and “the invisible hand” — every time.

    @Josh: When the trolls come out to defend Dimon and the Banksters, you’ve struck gold. Well said, well done! Count me in for a contribution toward getting this published in the WSJ.

    ~B-I-M

  70. Moe says:

    Rootless:

    If not a moral one, then what approach gets us to ask the right questions?

  71. rootless says:

    bear_in_mind, you wrote:

    Ah, there’s a strawman on every corner. To assert key participants are independent from, and feckless over, the system which they actively manipulate, is to surrender all sense of reason.

    I didn’t make such an assertion at all. The straw man is all yours.

    The participants are not independent from the system. And they try to manipulate the system for their self-interests all the time. Has it EVER been different? You are totally missing the point of what I wrote.

    Sorry, but I’ll choose Aristotle, Locke and Santayana over Ayn Rand and “the invisible hand” — every time.

    If you are read any Ayn Rand ideas into my comments, you are fantasizing. Try Marx’ analysis of capitalism instead. That’s the approach of analysis I prefer.

  72. Moe says:

    Bob A Says:

    But we never had to pitch in and save Apple – and then watch as he kept “earning” millions.

    I gave Apple my money – I have an Apple computer on my desk.
    I gave JP Morgan my money – I got nothing.

  73. bear_in_mind says:

    @rootless: Your entire premise effaces the extraordinary increase of inequality in the U.S. over the last 30-40 years. You assume the playing-field is level, but that conflates ‘what was’ with ‘what is’. America did offer a reasonably level playing field from the mid-1940′s through the early-80′s, an era of prosperity for all. But then America became enamored with right-wing policies which asserted the primacy of corporations, deregulation and moral rightness. These policies stridently claimed equality was destructive and greed the highest good. It’s enough to make both George Orwell and Sigmund Freud blush.

    ~B-I-M

  74. rootless says:

    Moe,

    What about shifting the question from “Who caused it?” to “What caused it?”, shifting from looking for the ones to blame to finding the features of the system dynamics that cause the increasing disparities and financial and economic crisis?

  75. Moe says:

    One is far easier than the other. A bit of public shaming is healthy and effective – ala the Scarlet Letter.
    Makes other’s stop and think.

    What caused it? The list is long (I don’t claim to know them all)

    For one: The number of financial intruments on Wall Street has exploded – and financial firms were able to throw tons of money at analysyts and quants – there was no way our regulators were going to keep pace with it. How can you regulate what you don’t even understand. ESPECIALLY when those who created the instruments obviously had no idea what they could and couldn’t do.

    The answer?: You leave it unregulated. And to think there are those still wanting no regulation at all – boggles the mind.

    A bigger concern of mine is when it comes to = “How do we fix it?”.

  76. rootless says:

    bear_in_mind, you wrote:

    Your entire premise effaces the extraordinary increase of inequality in the U.S. over the last 30-40 years. You assume the playing-field is level, but that conflates ‘what was’ with ‘what is’.

    I really don’t know which one of my statements or what point of view you think I have you are trying to refute here. I haven’t made such an assumption for anything I said.

    The playing-field isn’t leveled. The moment someone owns capital (the minority), and someone else doesn’t (the majority) the playing-field is not leveled. The ones who own capital (in the immediate form of the means of production, or in a less immediate form like shares, bonds etc. in a significant amount) have an advantage from the beginning just by the power of this ownership.

  77. tippet523 says:

    What is important is not what Josh says but how he treats his employees. Does he pay a fair wage, cover health insurance and provide a retirement. No one will know but i hope so. Happy Holidays BR

  78. RagingDebate says:

    I mostly agree with Rootless and Beaufou that Jamie Dimon serves an economic model long established in the U.S. but with some caveats at the end of my commentary on the personal failures.

    There are flaws in this system. I touch on this topic in this article where there is some reference to Alan Greenspan and his Congressional testimony on this flaw:

    http://seekingalpha.com/instablog/161453-jason-rines-ithinkbig/98259-feeling-upset-because-the-american-population-won-t-wake-up-as-the-u-s-falls-apart

    The planning and hopeful decision-making going forward is at the foundational level and government model. America should be striving for a five branch government having devolved from its founding into the 3D Pyramid (Monarchy). I believe the longevity and success of their brilliant and valiant effort from going to the 3D model to 4D model of checks and balances would have astonished them.

    The rule of law was abridged, even one of the institutional backbones of the nation is not exempt. The rule the law, in other words the Republic must be restored. As up to 50% of all promises are or will soon to be broken by Federal or State government (NH just collapsed but no independent media exists in the country so you don’t know that do you?) perhaps we should decide what we call America 2.0 now that the Uncle Sam brand has died.

    If Mr. Dimon is making attempts at restoring the rule of law he should either get some better PR or as an individual steward repent. That word in Greek and phrase simply meant: Change course. It did not mean to getting on your knees and groveling in humility.

    The crime was continued massive malinvestment past a particular year, perhaps 2004. I understand momentum and that the State is a big ship with a little rudder and all that. However, as a financial steward of America, Mr. Dimon’s failure was not taking away the punch bowl or at least publically standing up and saying such.

    If Mr. Dimon wants my forgiveness as a citizen then I would be satisfied if:

    1) Step down. Mr. Dimon has been searching for a successor for over a year but it is more than insulting to the American investing class he is not hurrying this along and stepping down.

    2) I saw him reinvest half his net worth back into America in innovative endeavors and advising ONLY to a new A team. Have the punishment fit the crime, perhaps at least some good can come out of it and it offers the choice of redemption for an individual that abridged his stewardship by not taking away the bunch bowl. The Fed and PD’s are the same entity these days outside of tiny, irrelevant semantics.

    The pressure and criticism may be deserved, but I am also surprised at the lack of wisdom by Mr. Brown in doing such a blatant personal attack piece. To assign what looks to be the failure of a 225 year old sovereign to one man is really quite a stretch. Even after this ‘failure’ the U.S. will still be a $9T economy and we should consider it opportune at failure to upgrade our software package (5d model). Republic’s shelf life is 200 years with the BEST intentions. Human beings are imperfect and the encapsulated wake up the very last at system failure.

    For disclosure: I am in independent media and have no qualms reporting bad decision making by our bank-led government. However, I was also surprised about some of the comments on this board that do not reflect capitalism in any manner. As a member of Gen X, I look to some of you older gentlemen for standards. If some are cheating in the market fund write and fund a plan for an independent media utility. Remind yourself what Andrew Jackson had to do working with the Newspapers to get the country back on balance from the overweight banking system (which of course lending is more prone to corruption).

    Merry Christmas,

    Jason C. Rines
    jrines@ragingdebate.com

  79. Somecallmetim says:

    “What about shifting the question from “Who caused it?” to “What caused it?”, shifting from looking for the ones to blame to finding the features of the system dynamics that cause the increasing disparities and financial and economic crisis?”

    Curious. Do you think the “what” happened on its own or was itself cause by the “who?”

  80. bear_in_mind says:

    rootless, you wrote:

    “As if financial and economic crisis of this system and the increasing disparity between the rich and the rest were caused by some character flaws and moral failures of Jamie Dimon and some of the “1%” super rich and the politicians to whom they are connected, who supposedly all behaved badly .”

    Red herring.

    Fact: Josh wrote about professional accountability and symptoms of systemic corruption that have been displayed via financial services “leaders” such as Mr. Dimon, Mr. Blankfein, Mr. Corzine, Mr. Fuld, Mr. O’Neal, Mr. Thain, and Mr. Cayne, to name a few.

    Fact: All those in financial services didn’t behave badly… but many have, and it’s those persons who should be held accountable for the deceptions, obfuscations, and fraud committed by their decision-making – and the firms they manage.

    rootless, you wrote:

    “And if they hadn’t behaved badly, in some idealistic fantasy about how capitalism should normatively look like, all of this wouldn’t have happened.”

    Red herring.

    Fact: The stability of the U.S. Treasury and financial system from the Great Depression and New Deal forward to Reagan’s Great Deregulation (devolution?) was no fantasy.

    Fact: This normative approach to capitalism prevented financial services from creating systemic risk, Too Big to Fail, ‘dark pools’, MERS, CDO’s, etc.

    Fact: Since deregulation, our financial system has seen the numerous speculative bubbles which poorly allocated assets in systemically dangerous ways. For example: the S&L Crisis, ’87 market crash, LTCM, Y2K & dot-com, housing crash.

    rootless, you wrote:

    “Attributing financial and economic crises to the subjective flaws of some people or groups of people as the alleged cause won’t lead to any understanding of reality.”

    Red herring.

    Fact: Understanding the objective decisions, actions and motivations of the decision-makers in financial services is the only reasonable methodology to understanding reality.

    ~B-I-M

  81. Protege21 says:

    I’m all for limiting personal attacks and certainly to blame Jamie Dimon and others like him for the mess we are currently in is not to tell the entire story. If the rules of the game can be bent in order to maximize profits then of course the cunning and ambitious will take advantage and we are naive to expect otherwise.

    HOWEVER;

    If Jamie Dimon wishes to make himself a spokesperson for the fight against reform, for failed “trickle down” policies, for the value adding economic phenomena of “financial innovation” then he deserves his fair share of criticism and more. He’s screamed blue bloody murder about the Basel rules, calling them “anti-American”. He has inserted himself into the “class warfare” charade that currently dominates political discourse.

    If he was to sit in his bathtub swimming in his millions and be quiet, I would have no quibble. Same to the others who made out like bandits in the last 10 years. They took advantage of the environment. What infuriates me, and clearly others, is belittling those who want reform. By twisting the arguments against the status quo into a “I just can’t understand why nobody likes me” type poor me argument, Dimon is equally guilty of this “class warfare.” That’s why this letter is necessary, though shouldn’t be, for someone as educated as Mr. Dimon.

  82. linusbern says:

    ashpelham2, Jamie Dimon isn’t being called out simply because he is a rich banker, but because he wrote a repugnant op-ed in which he whined about how badly the poor megarich are treated when all they have done is take billions from tax payers after cratering the economy and tanking their own companies. If he doesn’t want to be a target, maybe he shouldn’t be so public about being a dick.

  83. linusbern says:

    Rootless, it is tough to respond to someone who is so prolific about their stupidity.

    “The playing-field isn’t leveled. The moment someone owns capital (the minority), and someone else doesn’t (the majority) the playing-field is not leveled. The ones who own capital (in the immediate form of the means of production, or in a less immediate form like shares, bonds etc. in a significant amount) have an advantage from the beginning just by the power of this ownership.”

    So when you hear people talking about an uneven playing field, this is what you think they are talking about? One person has capital, one doesn’t, the one with capital can do more so the field is uneven? Sort of like how tall people have an advantage over short people, but that’s the way of the world so what can you do about it?

    When people talk about the uneven playing field they talk about how the wealthy use their power to rig everything in their favour. For example, one aim of the new consumer financial protection agency is to make credit card agreements clear, so that when you sign up you are able to see exactly what charges, and interest you will pay. The credit card industry doesn’t want this, they like that their customers can’t understand what they are getting into. It tilts the field in their favour. So they have gone all out to make sure that the agency can’t function.

    This is one small example, and there are many more. People like Dimon spend millions lobbying Washington, and buying senators to make sure that the field is tilted to favour them, and f%@k you.

  84. Iamthe50percent says:

    Just give me a Paypal button to contribute to the ad. Or to build a guillotine.

  85. Raleighwood says:

    IMO the letter to JD, and others by extension, has everything to do with patriotism, or the lack thereof. Destroy your own country for your own benefit – live large on the global scale while causing others to fail on the local level. Bring your country to its economic knees – reduce the living standards of huge swaths of your fellow citizens so a claim to the biggest, best, brightest, most obscene whatever can be made.

    Globalism – and the deliberate destruction of America’s manufacturing base – was certain to enrich a privileged few.

    Low interest rates – and the cajoling of less informed or articulate people into permanent debt servitude – was certain to enrich a privileged few.

    Corrupt politicians – and the official advantages that can be bestowed for the right amount of campaign funding – was certain to enrich a privileged few.

    Rootless – you are so right – morality has nothing to do with anything.

    It doesn’t take a village to raise a child – it takes a psychopath to eat one – which then leaves more for the rest of us.

    Game on people!

  86. rootless says:

    bear_in_mind, you wrote:

    Fact: Josh wrote about professional accountability and symptoms of systemic corruption that have been displayed via financial services “leaders” such as Mr. Dimon, Mr. Blankfein, Mr. Corzine, Mr. Fuld, Mr. O’Neal, Mr. Thain, and Mr. Cayne, to name a few.

    And here is what Josh really wrote:

    “So, no, we don’t hate the rich. What we hate are the predators.”

    And what do the predators? For instance,

    “Here in New York, we hated watching real estate and financial services elitists drive up the prices of everything from affordable apartments to martinis in midtown with the reckless speculation that would eventually lead to mass layoffs, rampant joblessness and the wreckage of so many retirement dreams. No one ever asked the rest of us if we minded, it just happened. I’m sure people across the country can tell similar stories.”

    So the bad behavior of morally flawed individuals are allegedly the cause for “mass layoffs, rampant joblessness and the wreckage of so many retirement dreams”.

    The red herring is all yours.

    Fact: The stability of the U.S. Treasury and financial system from the Great Depression and New Deal forward to Reagan’s Great Deregulation (devolution?) was no fantasy.

    Yes, these were great times where everyone had great and equal opportunities. Except for significant parts of the US population among them those who didn’t even have equal civil rights. And the increase in income disparities isn’t a phenomenon that has only occurred since the Reagan administration, and just a consequence of the deregulation, although it is true that the increase in the gap has accelerated. The acceleration started before the Reagan administration. Here is a figure of the percentiles of the income distribution since WW II:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:United_States_Income_Distribution_1947-2007.svg

    Now, another interesting question is what caused the deregulation that started with the Reagan administration. Was the cause some right-wing conspiracy that usurped power? It didn’t happen only in United States. There has been such an era of deregulation also in many other countries. So perhaps there were some structural changes in capitalism? As we know those 70ies were years of high inflation.

    Fact: Understanding the objective decisions, actions and motivations of the decision-makers in financial services is the only reasonable methodology to understanding reality.

    This isn’t a fact. This is an opinion. You should distinguish between fact and opinion.

  87. rootless says:

    linusbern,

    Do you really expect to get a reply when you start your comment with a personal attack?

  88. DeDude says:

    Dimon whined that people hate him because he is rich and Josh points out that there are lots of rich people who are revered as folk hero’s. The difference is that people think those other rich folks have deserved their wealth by doing something constructive and worth while. Josh points out that the reason Dimon and similar Wall Street millionaire’s are hated is that they are not seen as deserving or having earned all the money they sucked out of the system. The fact that they continue to suck millions out of their companies after the public bailed out those companies, further infuriates people and sustain the image of undeserving wealth. It would help a lot on the “image thing” if Wall Street would drop the bonuses (directly into food banks and homeless shelters all over the country) – but don’t hold your breath.

  89. wisedup says:

    hot tip rootless, the truth hurts and is impossible to argue with.
    We will eliminate food stamps by giving people jobs that pay well.
    We will eliminate welfare by allowing people to accumulate sufficient savings of their own.
    We will destroy the excessive influence the elite have over government and that will be done the hard way or the reasonable way.

    If you want to argue that 1% of the population can appropriate 99% of the wealth (of course we are not there yet but) without there being repercussions please go ahead. Should be interesting.

  90. bifboswell says:

    First, Dimon isn’t a capitalist/true believer: in the past two years he has exercised options on 2.9 million shares of stock and sold 2.9 million shares of stock. Shocking!

    http://finance.yahoo.com/q/it?s=JPM+Insider+Transactions

    Second, JP Morgan stock has been a s****y investment. When he was named CEO in 2004 the stock was ranging in the low $30s; it closed at $33.45 today (though it did trade as high $52.55 and as low as $15.93 under his most excellent stewardship).

    http://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=JPM+Interactive#chart1:symbol=jpm;range=my;indicator=volume;charttype=line;crosshair=on;ohlcvalues=0;logscale=on;source=undefined

    Third, should it really cost $29.5 million (2010? salary and stock options; and good god could you imagine the fringe benefits such a delicate flower would need) for s****y?

    http://finance.yahoo.com/q/pr?s=JPM+Profile

  91. Somecallmetim says:

    rootless

    If you want to be taken more seriously, it would be wise to avoid the growing list of logical fallacies that you have employed here. Straw men, red herrings, a false dichotomy or two, irrelevant conclusions and intentionally vague statements, affirming the consequent, denying the antecedent, improper dismissal… I have seen you commit them all here and got tired of counting..

  92. rootless says:

    wisedup, you wrote:

    If you want to argue that 1% of the population can appropriate 99% of the wealth (of course we are not there yet but) without there being repercussions please go ahead. Should be interesting.

    Please could you clarify to which one of my statements you refer here? Or are you just another one who just invents things I allegedly have said, but actually never did?

    @Somecallmetim:

    Not that I want to claim to never succumb to any logical fallacies, but if I have produced as many here as you claim it should be easy for you to quote a few and explain why they were ones, and not just make such a general, unspecific assertion that is not refutable because of its nature. Like this it rather looks like you try to dismiss my point of view on a meta-level, since you don’t like what I have said, but you don’t really know how to argue against it.

  93. [...] the whole letter here. Excellent. Thanks for taking the time Josh. Although the hopelessly elite and willfully blind are [...]

  94. Chad says:

    I haven’t read all the posts or responses from everyone, but dear lord, what I did read is a weak philosophical argument from Rootless.

    No, I won’t be pointing out specific parts, as it would be futile effort.

  95. rootless says:

    Somecallmetim wrote,

    “What about shifting the question from “Who caused it?” to “What caused it?”, shifting from looking for the ones to blame to finding the features of the system dynamics that cause the increasing disparities and financial and economic crisis?”

    Curious. Do you think the “what” happened on its own or was itself cause by the “who?”

    Is this rhetorical question supposed to deliver your argument with which you want to dismiss what I said in the quoted statement?

    Everything that happens in human society is mediated by human action. But do you really believe you have found your answer about causes when you have found the ones who did not follow your moral standards, whatever those are, and you believe are to be blamed for the crisis and misery?

    When you have certain regularly occurring patterns of behavior of people under some given conditions, e.g., people working in specific industries, the finance industry or mortgage industry, you may want to ask what system dynamics makes people behave in certain ways. And then you have arrived at the question “What caused it?” again. Unless you believe the root cause is that Dimon and others were somewhat morally challenged, and the solution for this is to punish them and to replace them with the “good” ones who behave according to your normative standards, and then, everything will be fine in the future, no financial and economic crisis and no increasing income and wealth disparities anymore.

  96. hankest says:

    Shorter rootless: It’s not the alledged criminal’s fault, society is to blame.

    Here’s a suggestion, while struggling with the question of “what caused it.” How about expecting the schmucks “who” caused it to stop whining about people saying mean things about them? Is that too much to ask Socrates?

  97. hankest says:

    Wow, new spelling of “alledged.”

  98. sns says:

    The question to all who oppose to base premise of @rootless’s comments (my understanding is that it is “the systemic faults are more important that individual to proper analysis of the problem”) : What do you think “good Mr. Dimon” should have done under the circumstances? Let his bank fail? Did not use his connections to get the best possible deal? Gave all the money to poor?

    Please note, that I am really interested in possible answers, not trying to make some political point (not yet)

  99. linusbern says:

    “Do you really expect to get a reply when you start your comment with a personal attack?”

    No, I don’t expect a reply, my argument was unassailable, I expect you to avoid even acknowledging my point.

  100. linusbern says:

    sns, to which circumstance are you referring?

    I assume it is the circumstance of the bank being on the brink of collapse and needing to be bailed out by taxpayers.

    But perhaps it is the circumstance of engaging in reckless risk taking, greed, corruption, fraud, and disregard for consequence that led to the collapse of the economy and brought his bank to the brink?

    Or maybe even, the circumstance of, (after having been bailed out and richly rewarded for his failures with tax-payer money), writing obnoxious op-eds in which he takes the mantle of intrepid, vital `job-creator` while basically calling the very tax-payers who bailed him out parasitical leaches who don’t have skin in the game and hate capitalism.

    The last makes the most sense in the context of the article, but perhaps you could clarify and then you might get an answer.