If we began to believe that Wall Street is expendable, perhaps we would regulate it properly so that it would do what it should do, and only that. It should provide a place for Americans to put their savings and channel those savings into the most productive investments, not a round-robin of one casino-like speculation after another.
Jeff Madrick, The Washington Post, 19 Nov 2011.
Jeff Madrick is an Economics columnist and author of Age of Greed (2011). His piece for The Washington Post last year that still captures my sociological imagination today. Madrick argues that while America cannot live without Wall Street, it has moved away from its primary function, to support small businesses and to engender economic growth to serve the public, rather than personal interests of an elite few… Madrick argues that American society needs to shift its thinking about Wall Street - to start thinking of it as “expendable”. Why is this view relevant to applied sociology? …I find Madrick’s analysis useful for thinking about: what does Wall Street look like if it was working as an equitable, transparent and well-regulated social institution? What social policies and social practices are required in order to shift its current practices? The first step is to go back to what Wall Street should be doing, then working out how to ensure that begins to happen.
Read more at my other blog, Sociology at Work.
You know, I think it’s about envy. I think it’s about class warfare. When you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on the 99 percent versus one percent — and those people who have been most successful will be in the one percent — you have opened up a whole new wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God. The American people, I believe in the final analysis, will reject it.
I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms and discussions about tax policy and the like. But the president has made it part of his campaign rally. Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It’s a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach and I think it will fail.
Mitt Romney, on Wednesday’s Today Show, discussing criticism of Wall Street and the rich. In other words, “Hey, poor people. Y’all are just jealous.”
Funny that. A Pew Poll released yesterday shows nearly two-thirds of the public (66%) believes there are “very strong” or “strong” conflicts between the rich and the poor—an increase of 19 percentage points since 2009. Also, participants identified the conflict between rich and poor as the largest, strong source of conflict in society:
If Romney is to be believed, at least two-thirds of Americans are just jealous.
The people camped out on Wall Street are not leaving unless and until they are cleared out by force. They look all kinds of silly in their outfits, and some of their statements don’t make a whole lot of sense to people like you, but they have put down roots, and you better get used to them. I’m sure the whole phenomenon is quite perplexing to you - really, why don’t they just go home? Don’t these people have jobs?
I hate to be the Irony Police, but that’s pretty much the whole point. They can’t, and they don’t. Have homes and jobs, I mean. There was a guy out there a few days ago holding a sign in front of a mortgage-lending institution that read “These People Took My Parent’s Home.” There are all sorts of people walking around Wall Street yelling their lungs out at you because, well, they really would like the opportunity to find gainful employment, as well as a future, but that nifty shell game you and yours pulled off (on our dime) wound up immolating the economy of the common man/woman, and so the common man/woman has decided - in lieu of anything else better to do - to spend their you-created idle hours on your doorstep.