The Daily Parker

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The more things change

James Fallows nails the dispiriting "business-as-usual" of Peter Orszag's new job:

[T]he decision of Peter Orszag, until recently the director of the Office of Management and Budget under Barack Obama, to join Citibank in a senior position [is both damaging and shocking. ]. Exactly how much it will pay is not clear, but informed guesses are several million dollars per year. Citibank, of course, was one of the institutions most notably dependent on federal help to survive in these past two years.

Damaging, in that it epitomizes and personalizes a criticism both left and right have had of the Obama Administration's "bailout" policy: that it's been too protective of the financial system's high-flying leaders, and too reluctant to hold any person or institution accountable. ...

Shocking, in the structural rather than personal corruption that it illustrates. I believe Orszag (whom I do not know at all) to be a faultlessly honest man, by the letter of the law. I am sorry for his judgment in taking this job, but I am implying nothing whatsoever "unethical" in a technical sense. But in the grander scheme, his move illustrates something that is just wrong.

When we notice similar patterns in other countries -- for instance, how many offspring and in-laws of senior Chinese Communist officials have become very, very rich -- we are quick to draw conclusions about structural injustices. Americans may not "notice" Orszag-like migrations, in the sense of devoting big news coverage to them. But these stories pile up in the background to create a broad American sense that politics is rigged, and opportunity too.

The whole piece is worth reading.

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