WALL STREET TURNS AGAINST THE PRESIDENT
By John Humins for VT
Former Wall Street supporters of Barack Obama have publicly voiced their alienation with President Obama’s financial reform policies. They have rejoined the corporate mainstream in condemning the president’s actions to restore ethics, regulatory oversight and attention to the general welfare in the American economic order.
They have clearly expressed their beliefs that their financial interests must be served. Government, they assert, should understand that a “free” market is the best policy to generate economic growth and wealth.
The current economic crisis belies their statements. It was the abuses of Wall Street and the unfettered financial markets that drove the economy into the ditch. A market that is completely “free” from regulation is a market ripe for economic anarchy. That is a scene where there are no rules, only profits and fat financial rewards for the insiders. It was, and is, a scene where greed and avarice prevail. And it benefits relatively few, while victimizing millions.
Too many business and financial leaders think they are operating in a vacuum. For thirty years, the Federal government has increasingly deregulated the American economy and has largely catered to corporate interests. This deregulation surge has become the accepted norm for these leaders. They like the freedom. They love that they are free to pursue their own interests without any oversight and responsibility. Transparency, as advocated by the president, is an anathema to those who wish to manipulate the market place.
The unregulated economic order has served itself very well. But it has not served the interests of the American people. Jobs have been outsourced. Wages have stagnated. Pensions and health benefits have declined or disappeared in private industry. Predatory and fraudulent mortgages became ticking time-bombs. Foreclosures reached epidemic levels and some neighborhoods faced ruination. Small banks have failed at alarming rates. And currently, millions of workers are unemployed or underemployed. These economic maladies are result of the excesses of a “free” marketplace. This “free” marketplace, as it did in 1929, has lead to an economic meltdown.
The “fat cats” are complaining that Obama’s policies to protect consumers, credit card holders, and mortgage seekers are too restrictive. Again, they feel victimized. They are not victims! They are the perpetrators of the worse economic crisis since the Great Depression. Instead of crying like spoiled children, they should be publicly shouting ‘mea culpa.’ And some should be prosecuted for criminal activities. For instance, how does Goldman Sachs justify ‘shorting’ the very financial products they sold as sound investments. Can you hear the echoes of an infamous Wall Street directive: “Put some lipstick on that pig… and sell it!”
Regardless of the many transgressions and current economic crisis, these’ fat cats’ cry foul. They claim that they are victims. A “bailout’ of nearly $900B distributed to the “too big to fail” banks, insurance, mortgage and automobile corporations, without any concessions, tells another story. They were ‘bailed-out’ by the American people. Now they feel financially invulnerable again. They have flourished in a fantasy world, now they must be brought back to reality.
For too long, Wall Street and many corporations have denied that they operate in a social context. To do so would mean they that have responsibilities to society and the American people. Rather, they insist that they are only responsible to their stockholders. They think only in the short term to maximize profits and the pay packages of the top executives. As a result, the economic order serves itself and the economic elite, while it ignores its responsibilities to the American people. Given the greedy and mean-spirited tendencies of too many corporations and financial institutions, no one should be shocked to learn that the top two per cent of Americans have over 50 per cent of this nation’s wealth. And it should come as no surprise that the pinnacling of wealth to the aristocratic few has accelerated during the recent decades of deregulation.
These ‘fat cats’ are so arrogant and removed from any sense of social responsibility that they now are rebelling against President Obama. Many of them have supported and gave generous political contributions to his campaign. They, of course, expected that their interests would be served. Only a president, who is in bed with these self-serving privateers, would oblige them and ignore his responsibility to the general welfare of the American people.
The truly sad and dangerous side to this financial-sector rebellion is that the actions and words of these rebels resemble economic extortion. ‘We’ll no longer support a president, who doesn’t serve our interests’, is a sad commentary. It puts their unwillingness to provide loans, create jobs and re-energize the American economy into a category of greedy, self-centered anti-Americanism.
John Humins, PhD
US Army, 1966-68