Tales of the new American nomenklatura

The new ruling elite of America consists of those favored by government power. You can forget about working your way up via honest hard work. The fruits will be confiscated, and given to those with political sway.

It is a situation familiar to residents of the former Soviet Union, where the term nomenklatura (members of a list) was applied to describe the plutocrats who ruled that society and lived lavishly without benefit of huge personal wealth.

While the rest of us worry about having enough money to retire on or affording braces for our kids, the American nomenklatura are insulated from such mundane issues.

The fate of UAW members versus bond holders in the wreckage of Chrysler Corporation is one illustration of the benefits of membership, even junior membership, in the nomenklatura. But it is at the upper reaches of the American nomenklatura, among office holders and senior bureaucrats, that we see how cushy life gets, even as the economy tanks.

At the federal level, lavish spending on luxury toys for members of Congress was exposed yesterday by the Wall Street Journal. Last night, Mr. and Mrs. Obama jetted off on one of their now-infamous "dates", this time in New York City, costing untold hundreds of thousands of dollars in expense for the federal and local governments. Remember the hyperventilating about auto executives flying private jets to attend a Congressional hearing? Why is that worse than a private jet to go out on a date, when plenty of fine restaurants and theatres exist in DC?

At the state and local levels, there are plenty of abuses as well. City council members in Los Angeles earn salaries of $178,789, and enjoy mind-boggling perks, including slush funds of $100,000 with verty few strings attached, are able to hire 20 (!) aides, and access to 8 (!) free cars, according to the LA Weekly.

Taxpayers are being asked to do with less, because of the economic crisis. How about government's ostensible leaders actually leading -- by example?