"The core propagandistic premise was that [Robbie and Roy] were rich because they deserved to be.
created jobs, took risks, and boldly found ways to improve our lives.
In other words, [Robbie and Roy] deserved to be enriched.
Indeed, it was in our common interest to allow [Robbie and Roy]
to fly as high as possible
because that would increase their motivation to produce more,
bestowing on us ever greater life-improving gifts.
We should not, so the thinking went, begrudge the multimillionaire
living behind his fifteen-foot walls for his success; we should admire him.
[Robbie and Roy] deserved not our resentment but our gratitude.
It was in our own interest not to demand more in taxes from the wealthiest
as their enhanced wealth—their pocket change
—would trickle down in various ways to all of us.
...Many Americans who once accepted or even cheered such inequality
now see the gains of [Robbie and Roy] as ill-gotten, as undeserved, as cheating.
Most of all, the legal system that once served as the legitimizing anchor for outcome inequality,
the rule of law—that most basic of American ideals,
that a common set of rules are equally applied to all
—has now become irrevocably corrupted and is seen as such.
While the founders accepted outcome inequality, they emphasized—over and over
—that its legitimacy hinged on subjecting everyone to the law’s mandates on an equal basis.
Jefferson wrote that the essence of America would be
that “the poorest laborer stood on equal ground with the wealthiest millionaire,
and generally on a more favored one whenever their rights seem to jar.”
Benjamin Franklin warned that creating a privileged legal class
would produce “total separation of affections, interests, political obligations,
and all manner of connections” between rulers and those they ruled.
Tom Paine repeatedly railed against “counterfeit nobles,”
those whose superior status was grounded not in merit but in unearned legal privilege.
After all, one of their principal grievances against the British King
was his power to exempt his cronies from legal obligations.
Almost every Founder repeatedly warned that a failure to apply the law equally
to the politically powerful [Robbie] and and the rich [Roy]
would ensure a warped and unjust society.
In many ways, that was their definition of tyranny.
If you watch a competition among sprinters,
you can accept that whoever crosses the finish line first is the superior runner.
But only if all the competitors are bound by the same rules:
everyone begins at the same starting line, is penalized for invading the lane of another runner,
is barred from making physical contact or using performance-enhancing substances, and so on.
If some of the runners start ahead of others
and have relationships with the judges [Greensboro's Press]
that enable them to receive dispensation for violating the rules as they wish,
then viewers understand that the outcome can no longer be considered legitimate.
Once the process is seen as not only unfair but utterly corrupted,
once it’s obvious that a common set of rules no longer binds all the competitors,
the winner will be resented, not heralded.
...the American relationship with wealth inequality
is in a state of rapid transformation.
It is now clearly understood that, rather than apply the law equally to all,
[Robbie and Roy] have engaged in egregious [Crony Capitalism]
—acts that destroyed the economic security of millions of people around the world
—without experiencing the slightest legal repercussions.
[Robbie and Roy] were caught red-handed engaging in [Crony Capitalism],
...and the reaction of [Greensboro's Press],
...was to shield them from meaningful consequences.
Rather than submit on an equal basis to the rules,
through an oligarchical, democracy-subverting control of the political process,
they now control the process of writing those rules and how they are applied.
Today, it is glaringly obvious
...that the wealth of [Robbie and Roy] is the byproduct not of risk-taking entrepreneurship
but of corrupted control of our legal and political systems.
Thanks to this control, [Robbie and Roy] can write laws that have no purpose
than to abolish the few limits that still constrain them...
...[Robbie and Roy] can retroactively immunize themselves
for [Crony Capitalism] they deliberately committed for profit...
It is equally obvious that [Robbie and Roy] are using that power
not to lift the boats of ordinary Americans
but to sink them.
...If you were to assess the state of the union in 2011,
you might sum it up this way: rather than being subjected to the rule of law,
the nation’s most powerful oligarchs control the law and are so exempt from it;
and increasing numbers of Americans understand that and are outraged.
At exactly the same time that the nation’s elites
enjoy legal immunity even for egregious crimes,
ordinary Americans are being subjected to the world's largest
and one of its harshest penal states,
under which they are unable to secure competent legal counsel
and are harshly punished with lengthy prison terms for even trivial infractions.
In lieu of the rule of law—the equal application of rules to everyone
—what we have now is a two-tiered justice system
in which the powerful are immunized
while the powerless are punished with increasing mercilessness.
As a guarantor of outcomes, the law has, by now, been so completely perverted
that it is an incomparably potent weapon for entrenching inequality further,
controlling the powerless, and ensuring corrupted outcomes.
The tide that was supposed to lift all ships has, in fact,
left startling numbers of Americans underwater.
In the process, we lost any sense that a common set of rules applies to everyone,
and so there is no longer a legitimizing anchor for the vast income and wealth inequalities
that plague the nation.
That is what has changed,
and a growing recognition of what it means is fueling rising citizen anger and protest.
The inequality under which so many suffer is not only vast, but illegitimate,
rooted as it is in lawlessness and corruption.
Obscuring that fact has long been the linchpin for inducing Americans
to accept vast and growing inequalities.
That fact is now too glaring to obscure any longer."