Well, apparently, the folks at Citigroup could ask for more, in the form of $42 million corporate jet. (How's THAT for a segue?) This is relatively old news, but William Garvey, an apologist for the private-jet industry, had an op-ed in today's paper. He explained that corporate jets should not be considered extravagances: They allow businessmen to be more productive, you see. With a private jet, dealmakers can swoop into town ahead of their competitors to seal deals, and they can make productive use of flight time by going over that PowerPoint presentation one more time. The Solipsist is sure that this was the sole reason for Citigroup's purchase. Harvey did make some good points about the private-jet industry providing lots of juicy American jobs; of course, this would have been more convincing had Citigroup not been purchasing a jet from a French company (Falcon).
The Solipsist would, however, like to go on record as saying that all the fuss being made over the jet is somewhat disproportionate. Assuming a bailout package of, say, $20 billion, even a $50 million dollar outlay for a jet represents a one-quarter of one percent share of the total package. Of course, companies SHOULDN'T be spending such money in such seemingly frivolous ways, but considering the relative smallness of the outlay and the perhaps reasonable logic of William Harvey, one could almost make a case for it.
The Solipsist will not do that, however.
Because this all goes back to the power of symbols (discussed in last Sunday's post--1/25/09). Reality is not always the point. The world and the country face problems--problems that will not be dispelled easily. The country may well claw its way out of its economic malaise, but it will take time. In the meantime, every effort must be made to show the people--US--that the powers-that-be get it. When Marie Antoinette said "Let them eat cake," it was less a callous statement of contempt and more a sign that she just didn't understand what was going on. And this lack of understanding led to revolution.
The Sans-Culottes may not be sharpening their swords in the streets of Chicago just yet, but beware. Corporate jets start to look like a whole lot of cake to hungry eyes.