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thumbnailcap6pxkoFinally, outrage over huge bonuses The self-serving compensation system that is the heart of Wall Street’s woes has raised the type of rare public outcry that can’t be ignored in the halls of power. [Related content: banking, banks, Lehman, Dow, middle class] By The Wall Street Journal Just a mere $18.4 billion in Wall Street bonuses, and suddenly the entire country is like Kansas in the 1890s, raising hell instead of corn, screaming for revenge on money power that has done us so wrong while rewarding itself so generously. The outburst of populist rage is particularly alarming when we consider how easily such sentiments were managed just a short while ago. Americans have known about mounting inequality and king-sized Wall Street bonuses for years. But we also had an entire genre of journalism dedicated to brushing the problem off. Recall, for example, the famous essay by David Brooks published in The Atlantic in 2001, in which he declared that, in one representative salt-of-the-earth Republican region, people had “no class resentment or class consciousness” and that complaints about the lopsided distribution of the economy’s rewards were something one heard only from people in the wealthy and tasteful reaches of blue America. Brooks’ argument was powerful not so much because it captured reality but because, by suggesting that to care about economic inequality was itself an act of snobbery, it ingeniously short-circuited the entire debate. Egalitarianism begins at home, liberal!

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