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'Politics of Resentment'

January 20, 1988

It would appear that, in Novak's view, anyone who criticizes Wall Street for its venal, greedy, shortsightedness is making an irresponsible attack on the entire capitalist system. In point of fact, the resentment he so abhors has nothing to do with envy. It is both our right and responsibility to subject the power structures of this nation, whether they be political or economic, to harsh and unrelenting criticism when they fail either in competence or loyalty to the nation and its people. Rather than dismissing resentful criticism as a manifestation of envy, Novak should delve into the reasoning behind it.

If he did so he would find that people resent those who casually manipulate the material wealth of a great nation for short-term gain without regard for the consequences it has for the rest of us. He would find Americans angry at large corporations for shutting down factories in the U.S. and replacing American workers with Asian and Latin American labor pools content to work for wages no American could live on. He would find Americans fed up with stockbrokers so lazy and yet intent on making big money now that they abrogate their decision-making capabilities in favor of computer-trading systems, the same systems the government has failed to regulate in spite of their obvious contribution to two recent stock crashes.

In short, the resentment isn't envy directed against the capitalist system, but rational anger at its mismanagement in the hands of glib slick profit takers so intent on making a fast buck that they would rather loot the economy now than reinvest some of their wealth to reindustrialize a nation that is fast becoming unable to make its own steel.

TIM CALLAHAN

Pasadena

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