Monday, November 17, 2008

Post Punk Wall Street: Killing Jokes, Echoes and Masters of the Universe

"Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men....The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

I’d never taken an accounting course, never run a business, never even had savings of my own to manage. I stumbled into a job at Salomon Brothers in 1985 and stumbled out much richer three years later, and even though I wrote a book about the experience, the whole thing still strikes me as preposterous—which is one of the reasons the money was so easy to walk away from. I figured the situation was unsustainable. Sooner rather than later, someone was going to identify me, along with a lot of people more or less like me, as a fraud. Sooner rather than later, there would come a Great Reckoning when Wall Street would wake up and hundreds if not thousands of young people like me, who had no business making huge bets with other people’s money, would be expelled from finance.

Pasted from <>

Michael Lewis represented what was wrong with the Wall Street system, the "trickle down" theory and the "greed is good" Geckoian approach to capitalism. And he knew it. He knew it so much he was disgusted enough by the whole affair to quit it with little regret. It is ironic and fitting that I discovered him through a post made at HuffPost by a very fragile and sick woman that was battling cancer alone in America's insurance hell. She once was one of those "Masters of the Universe" dissected by Tom Wolfe way back in 1987. Significantly, Wolfe is now calling Wall Street an anachronism:

"Incidentally, there are no seats on the Floor, none that this correspondent ever saw. The Exchange is already an anachronism, like Broadway. Everything is done by computer today. Hanging out on the Floor of the Exchange is like hanging out at OTB. Broadway and the Exchange are like the first thing you see when you enter Disneyland in California. You find yourself in a turn-of-the-last-century town with a trolley and an apothecary and a barber shop. That’s Broadway and Wall Street today."

Pasted from <>

Another sign that the United States' position in World Affairs is shifting from main actor to soon to be second seat witness.

So Lewis tells us that as a young, inexperienced brat, he just played with money, other people's money and made millions doing it. Then he retired and wrote a book about it. He was early but now the young Masters are following suit, just fashionably late enough, and are leaving their million dollar jobs as easily as Arsene Lupin after a good sting or one of Kevin Smith's everyday slackers in Clerks. "They’d read my book as a how-to manual.", Lewis tells us , a tad bit amazed. And now, Tom Wolfe tells us in his NY Time op-ed piece:

"...when your correspondent paid his one and only visit to the Floor, one member came up to another and informed him that he, like so many others recently, was leaving the Exchange for good.

“What will you be doing?”

“I’m joining the Fire Department.”

“The Fire Department? In what capacity?”

“I’ll be a firefighter. The pension plan is awesome.”"

Yep, they saw, they gain, they bought a Manor in Greenwich, Connecticut, leaving us the pieces of broken hype and sudden disillusion. Their bosses do not know what they did or how or why. But they WILL receive that bail-out check, thank you very much. The fact that the young Masters had no clothes and that the Repugs were giving them money like candy again, and again, and again; scandals after scandals after ruinous scandals, screaming in horror every time somebody mentioned that this displacement of power and wealth is killing the working class and the poor i.e. more than 90% of Americans. The fact that a Nobel Prize of Economics like Krugman has to teach basic history to right wing propaganda drone George "I have a bow tie, so, thrust me" Will, the fact that Obama will have to deal again with people so blinded by greed that they will destroy everything , including his Presidency, to fulfill their ambitions; all those fact are why I started this blog.

In every system, capitalism or socialism or communism or anarchism, unregulated freedom will fail if left unchecked. And the only one in power to check those systems are you and me. The Repugs
get away with it because we let them get away with it. We are participating in our own demise, hoo-ing and haaaa-ing and fawning over Coulter, Palin, Lieberman, Kissinger, Bill O'Reilly for Pete's sake!

The Masters are not dead and we DO need them. But on a golden leash.

But how? Jason Forman (CitiGroup), Robert Wolf (UBS), Jim Johnson (Fannie Mae),William Daley (Freddie Mac), Robert Rubin ("deregulate now, sir!"), people with THE money (corporate employees, CEOs, ex-execs) all are glued to Obama's ears and are adding gentle constant pressure to his private Presidential parts.

But I still believe in his capacity to do what's right. For now, I like what I'm hearing. Not love (Stop with the Hillary nonsense already. Leave her where she is so she can try again for the Presidency and influence the hell out of Reid and Pelosi. Richardson is the one.) But like. Now I have to wait 'till January to see if I'll like the action.

No comments:

Post a Comment