Heard on the street: changing attitudes towards finance
September 24, 2008
The proposed Treasury bailout plan has generated a lot of conversations. Even among my colleagues in the finance department there is considerable resistance to the plan. “In two months, you’ll see Goldman give out $150m in bonuses,” said yesterday a very orthodox and neoclassic colleague of mine.
However, some of the reactions I’m hearing rely on a highly-charged revolutionary rhetoric that is simply unbelievable. Consider, for instance, the email I received yesterday from a research unit at The Graduate Center (read and enjoy):
This week the White House is going to try to push through the biggest robbery in world history with nary a stitch of public debate to bail out the Wall Street bastards who created this economic apocalypse in the first place. As with the Patriot Act, the bailout capitalizes on public shock to force through their “therapy.”
Think about it: They said providing healthcare for 9 million children, perhaps costing $6 billion a year, was too expensive, but there’s evidently no sum of money large enough to sate the Wall Street pigs. If this passes, forget about any money for environmental protection, to counter global warming, for education, for national healthcare, to rebuild our decaying infrastructure, for alternative energy.
This is a historic moment. We need to make our presence felt to influence the debate they would deny us. Join the demonstration this Thursday at 4pm in Wall Street (details below).
With Bear Stearns, Fannie and Freddie, AIG, the money markets and now this omnibus bailout, well in excess of $1 trillion will be funneled away from the poor, workers and middle class to the scum floating on top. The Feds are propping up stock prices, directing buyouts, subsidizing crooks and swindlers who already made a killing off the mortgage bubble. Even before any details have been hashed out, the New York Times admits, “Wall Street began looking for ways to profit from it.” NYT’s chief financial correspondent writes that the Bush administration wants “Congress to give them a blank check to do whatever they want, whatever the cost, with no one able to watch them closely.” It’s pseudo-socialism for the rich and dog-eat-dog capitalism for the rest of us.
By demonstrating later in the day we can show these thieves, as they leave work, we’re not their suckers. Anyone who can’t get off work can still join us downtown as soon as they are able. This crime is without precedence and we cannot afford to be silent.
When: 4pm – ? Thursday, September 25.
Where: Southern end of Bowling Green Park, in the plaza area (at the southern end of Bowling Green Park, which is the small triangular park that has the Wall Street bull at the northern tip)
Why: To say we won’t pay for the Wall Street bailout
Pigs. Bastards. Crooks. Although colorful, I find this violence in the language very distasteful. I am automatically distanced from this. But more importantly, the email woke me up to the fact that the financial industry may be living through a change greater than its own economic fortunes: a shift in the public perception of its importance and legitimacy. I wonder what this means for the proposed bailout, as well as for the policies and regulations of the next administration.
Maybe I’ll show up at the demonstration. Just to see what they shout about.