Sunday, November 22, 2009

Main Street v. Wall Street

The November 9th, 2009 issue of Time magazine had an interesting cover which read, “Why Main Street Hates Wall Street.” While there were several interesting articles and commentaries in that issue it’s the cover article that I want to write about.

Before discussing the article though I would like to comment briefly about the cover. The term “hate” really bothers me. In my opinion, we should be angry, frustrated and disgusted with Wall Street. But I would discourage “hating.” When we hate then far too often we forget that the target of our hatred is often times a human being, who then becomes ‘The Other.’ As a result we may begin down a path that ultimately ends in violence. Let us be angry but let us not hate.

Now, back to the subject at hand, the Time magazine article written by Allan Sloan which is actually titled “What’s Still Wrong with Wall Street.” There’s a lot of good that can be said about the article. It starts out with a very good analysis of what led up to the crash, such as the actions of AIG and Citibank. It then dives into the post-crash events in which these fat cats were bailed out by the feds. Sloan also centers his fire on those same execs that won’t have to face justice for swindling so many people and destroying so many lives. The article wraps up with some recommendations on fixing the system.

I have only two real criticisms of the article but I think these are important. My first critique is that it fails to point the blame where it belongs, which is the capitalist system itself. Instead, the article states that the failure was not enough regulations on the financial industry. This mistaken assumption leads to the second criticism, which is that the recommended solutions consist of simply more regulation and a warning not to blindly trust Wall Street.

Progressives need to drop these constant calls to save capitalism. These repeated statements that capitalism can be saved are starting to resemble the plot from “Weekend at Bernie’s.” Let’s just go ahead and acknowledge the demise of capitalism so that we can move on to a better system.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” - Jesus of Nazareth

If you listen to capitalists and their apologists they claim to be the voice of reason while, according to them, those of us on the Left run on passion. But actually it’s the capitalists, especially the current breed who’s been in vogue for the last few decades, who are the ones running on faith.

In his most recent book, No Rising Tide, Joerg Rieger explains that there are several tenants to this bizarre capitalist religion and they are built on blind faith. No amount of rational proof will sway the capitalist from these tenants. According to Rieger those tenants are:

• Economic deregulation always promotes growth,
• Tax cuts for powerful corporations and the wealthy always spur the economy,
• Wealth gathered at the top inevitably trickles down, and
• A rising tide will lift all boats.

The comedian Stephen Colbert hit the nail on the head when he coined the term “Moneytheism” to describe this twisted religion. One must wonder how much longer before people finally wake up and realize that they’ve been duped by false prophets all of this time?

I’ve been lucky to have heard Joerg Rieger speak on several occasions and I highly recommend his new book, No Rising Tide.