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Wall Street Is Already Occupied

Note: The Trade is not subject to our Creative Commons license.

Last week, I had a conversation with a man who runs his own trading firm. In the process of fuming about competition from Goldman Sachs, he said with resignation and exasperation: “The fact that they were bailed out and can borrow for free — It’s pretty sickening.”

Though the sentiment is commonplace these days, I later found myself thinking about his outrage. Here was someone who is in the thick of the business, trading every day, and he is being sickened by the inequities and corruption on Wall Street and utterly persuaded that nothing had changed in the years since the financial crisis of 2008.

Then I realized something odd: I have conversations like this as a matter of routine. I can’t go a week without speaking to a hedge fund manager or analyst or even a banker who registers somewhere on the Wall Street Derangement Scale.

That should be a great relief: Some of them are just like us! Just because you are deranged doesn’t mean you are irrational, after all. Wall Street is already occupied — from within.

The insiders have a critique similar to that of the outsiders. The financial industry has strayed far from being an intermediary between companies that want to raise capital so they can sell people things they want. Instead, it is a machine to enrich itself, fleecing customers and exacerbating inequality. When it goes off the rails, it impoverishes the rest of us. When the crises come, as they inevitably do, banks hold the economy hostage, warning that they will shoot us in the head if we don’t bail them out.

And I won’t pretend this is a widespread view in finance — or even a large minority. You don’t hear this from the executives running the big Wall Street firms; you don’t hear it from the average trader or investment banker. From them, we get self-pity. For every one of the secret Occupy Wall Street sympathizers, there are probably 15 others like Kenneth G. Langone, who, like downtrodden people before him, is trying to reclaim and embrace a pejorative, “fat cat.”

The critics are more often found on the periphery, running hedge funds or working at independent research shops. They are retired, either voluntarily or not. They are low-level executives who haven’t made scrambling up the corporate hierarchy their sole ambition in life. Perhaps their independent status removes the intellectual handcuffs that come with ungodly bonuses. Or perhaps they are able to see Big Money’s flaws because they have to compete with the bigger banks for dollars.

Are these “Wall Streeters”? To civilians, they work on the Street. Bankers at the bulge-bracket firms wouldn’t think they are. But that doesn’t mean they don’t count. They know the financial business intimately.

Sadly, almost none of these closeted occupier-sympathizers go public. But Mike Mayo, a bank analyst with the brokerage firm CLSA, which is majority owned by the French bank Crédit Agricole, has done just that. In his book “Exile on Wall Street” (Wiley), Mr. Mayo offers an unvarnished account of the punishments he experienced after denouncing bank excesses. Talking to him, it’s hard to tell you aren’t interviewing Michael Moore.

Mr. Mayo is particularly outraged over compensation for bank executives. Excessive compensation “sends a signal that you take what you get and take it however you can,” he told me. “That sends another signal to outsiders that the system is rigged. I truly wish the protestors didn’t have a leg to stand on, but the unfortunate truth is that they do.”

I asked Richard Kramer, who used to work as a technology analyst at Goldman Sachs until he got fed up with how it did business and now runs his own firm, Arete Research, what was going wrong. He sees it as part of the business model.

“There have been repeated fines and malfeasance at literally all the investment banks, but it doesn’t seem to affect their behavior much,” he said. “So I have to conclude it is part of strategy as simple cost/benefit analysis, that fines and legal costs are a small price to pay for the profits.”

Last week, in a Bloomberg Television event, both Laurence D. Fink, the chairman and chief executive of the mega-money management firm BlackRock, and Bill Gross, the legendary bond investor, evinced some sympathy for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Over the last several decades, “money and finance have dominated at the expense of labor and Main Street, and so how can one not sympathize with their predicament?” Mr. Gross said, speaking of the 99 percent. “To not have sympathy with Main Street as opposed to Wall Street is to have blinders.”

It’s progress that these sentiments now come regularly from people who work in finance. This is an unheralded triumph of the Occupy Wall Street movement. It’s also an opportunity, to reach out to make common cause with native informants.

It’s also a failure. One notable absence in this crisis and its aftermath was a great statesman from the financial industry who would publicly embrace reform that mattered. Instead, mere months after the trillions had flowed from taxpayers and the Federal Reserve, they were back defending their prerogatives and fighting any regulations or changes to their business.

Perhaps a major reason why so few in this secret confederacy speak out is that they are as flummoxed about practical solutions as the rest of us. They don’t know where to begin.

Over the next year, maybe that will change. Things are going to be tough on Wall Street. Bonuses will be down. Layoffs are coming. Europe seems on the brink of another financial crisis. Maybe from that wreckage, a leader will emerge.

We can talk about the corrupt bankers and a corrupt FED until hell freezes over, and nothing is going to change until we get public funding of campaigns.

Jack Lohman
http://MoneyedPoliticians.net

Manipulating esoteric interest rates for personal profit adds nothing to society or to civilization. The compensation for the people who are successful at it is absurd. The word parasite comes to mind. We are the host. We should seek treatment.

The Epicurean Dealmaker

Nov. 30, 2011, 1:28 p.m.

Oh, there have been plenty of principled leaders with integrity on Wall Street. Those are the men and women lying on the ground with knife wounds in the back and gunshot wounds in the front.

Leadership from Wall Street can do no good until we get similarly committed, courageous, principled leadership from the regulatory community and the politicians who oversee them. Anyone want to give me an estimate when that might come about?

Some of us have been speaking out publicly for some time.  You just don’t see our mugs in newspapers or our real names in print.

http://epicureandealmaker.blogspot.com

Gabor Busztin

Nov. 30, 2011, 1:35 p.m.

To avoid the possibility of becoming ‘too big to fail’, wouldn’t it alleviate risk if banks of a certain size were split up?

I agree that there should be public funding of campaigns.  But bribery is still bribery.  Until it results in a prison sentence money will still change hands.

Joan, bribery is bribery… legal bribery (campaign contributions) does not require jail time. Illegal briber does. Ask Rostenkowski or Blagopvich but we MUST get rid of the former and continue prosecuting the latter.

Here’s a word Americans are afraid of, even if it can save them: nationalization.
Yes. Do it to the banks. Nationalize; restructure; sell. That’s what Bernanke recommended to the Japanese government back in the 1990’s.
Too bad they didn’t dare to heed his advice.
If people think that’s “impractical”, wait till they see the alternatives.

Richard Ordowich

Nov. 30, 2011, 9:52 p.m.

Perhaps Wall Street is a reflection of society’s collective greed. The “heros” of Wall Street have become the villains. Society needs its villains to absolve its own guilt of which there is plenty to go around. Wall Street has always been a mix of cassino, brothel, frat house and icon of capitalism.

The brightest minds strived to work on Wall Street, pursuing fame and fortune. But like all institutions who have reached the pinnacle of power, Wall Street became intoxicated with money, greed and power. The regulatory agencies and politicians drank from the same intoxicating liquor and were indoctrinated with the dogma of investment banking, derivatives, hedge funds believing they had invented a perpetual money machine. It will take decades to purge this dogma from our economy. Hoefully a new form of capitalism, less greedy, more equitable and transparent will emerge. In the meantime we can expect those who have drunk from the Wall Street chalice to remain intoxicated, because sobriety doesn’t fell as good.

Michael Schroeder

Nov. 30, 2011, 11:53 p.m.

A provocative angle on a familiar story:  financial industry insiders, positioned more on the periphery than in the center, who can describe in intimate detail how the whole system’s gone totally haywire.  Kudos on this piece & to ProPublica for your sustained focus on key issues of the day.  Bumped into your website by accident via the derivatives article in the NYT on 17 Nov—an unusually helpful piece—& after reading around a bit am really impressed.  You guys do terrific work!  Site feels fresh & edgy & at the same time ultra-professional.  Gonna contribute $$ for the holidays & looking forward to being a regular reader & spreading the word.  Thank you.

The problem isn’t really a lack of equality, though.  While there are absolutely socialists in the Occupy Wall Street movement, I don’t hear a serious public outcry over the mere FACT that big-bankers are filthy rich.

The problem is that they’re rich for no good reason.  They make no product other than inequality.  They have computers fiddle with numbers (and if you’re Goldman Sachs, the revelation of the stolen “secret password” a couple of summers back means they make decisions inside the exchanges, seeing trades before they’re made, rather than outside) and declare massive victory because they’ve made two dollars look like four by twirling them around quickly enough.

By contrast, Apple is making an absurd amount of money by over-pricing their products and making them in China, where civil rights and workplace safety are fantasies (and by putting spyware on their phones, as revealed last week, but so does everybody—search for CarrierIQ and/or Trevor Eckhart, the researcher who got sued for breaking the story), but nobody is Occupying Cupertino because they’re making products that people like; it’s symbiotic, even if Apple would kill us all to make a dollar.  The banks are making that money as parasites, and that’s a problem.

Joan and Jack, I still feel we need to go a step further.  Rather than public campaign funding, why fund at all?  News stations and websites run public debates.  The Internet and social media has made it all but free to get a message out.  Volunteers can go door to door.  I see no reason to give them money to spend on obnoxious commercials and posters they don’t take down when they should be able to conduct the whole thing on pocket change.

(Consider politicians as applicants for a job and consider how much money you’d spend to get and keep a job with the same salary.  If they’re spending more than you would in the private sector, they’re not worth electing.)

Radico, nationalizing banks is definitely something that needs to happen, but more because the money supply needs to be sovereign and in the hands of the people to avoid control through catastrophe (restricting money during times of growth, for example), rather than because it’s convenient.  In fact, it’s probably not convenient, since government banks would often be forced to lend to avoid appearing prejudiced.

Please use your real name? Why the hell would I do that?

Jack
I’m with you on this your comment on getting money out of politics. I believe this will take a long-term process of electing representatives at the State level across multiple states to force a Constitutional Amendments (may 2 or 3) the note in particular:
Money is not speech
Candidates may accept nothing more than $500 (for example) from independent citizens - no groups, Unions, businesses or corporations may contribute anything to government
Campaigns may not last more than 6 months - 3 months for primaries, 3 months for the general election.
The public airwaves must be made available to all candidates.

Nationalize the Banks.

Trying to make us believe that bankers side with the occupiers is very crafty. I’m not saying there isn’t good people in the industry.

What I am saying is the actions of the few at the top determined the resistance long ago. The results were in long ago. Change needs to occur regardless of how nice the sympathizers.

Only a change in policy will suffice. Public funded campaigns, accountability, overcoming systemic failures via stricter regulation…

Charles Vanderbilt

Dec. 1, 2011, 12:10 p.m.

The situation could be radically changed tomorrow.
Just start taxing the millions of transactions that go
on at an alarming rate. These transactions are nothing
but greed run rampant.

Its really a common sense critique that reflects realty.  This is what is happening on wallstreet and in the big banks, but there is no political will to intervene.  Also the lazy fair ideology only works for the big boys anymore and its interesting how that thinking has influenced the entire work force and population.  So its more than greed, its also an ideology that has infected the masses to buy into the enrichment scheme for a few at the top and in each field whether it be sports, pop, or movies.

Jack Lohman said, “We can talk about the corrupt bankers and a corrupt FED until hell freezes over, and nothing is going to change until we get public funding of campaigns.”

Or until enough people are living on the streets.

Comments please.

Edward Meeker

Dec. 1, 2011, 1:04 p.m.

The problem is that capitalism is, by its nature, not democratic. We need a separation of business and state, just as we had a separation of church and state, for basically the same reason. A democracy must be truly based on the idea of one vote and a vote that can not be commanded by religion, money or any other entity that may arise, so that the government truly represents the people and their interests, not the interests of a few. I believe that capitalism has taken the place that religion had when the original United States was created, and it presents the same problem that religion did then (and sometimes does now) that the interests and freedom of the few overrules the freedom of the many. We have, and many continue to do so, misunderstood ourselves to be a capitalist nation rather than a democratic one.

In Texas in the 1980s over 1000 people went to jail for their part in the ‘Savings and Loan’ scandal.  To this point since 2008, not one individual involved in the financial industry has even been charged for any wrong doing.  They’ve learned their lesson this time—buy your politicians early…

As the article says, “To not have sympathy with Main Street as opposed to Wall Street is to have blinders.”

Unfortunately, a lot of people wear their blinders proudly. Many of them, even more unfortunately, vote.

imaginenobanks

Dec. 1, 2011, 1:10 p.m.

imagine no profit-driven financing, education, health care, or housing.

imagine equal respect for all occupations.

imagine that….

By most accounts, no one doubts that the financial system is rigged for the benefit of the large Bank Holding Corporations, i.e. Goldmann, JP Morgan. Wells Fargo, Citi, etc..  Granting these Holding Corporations unencumbered access to the Fed window, a private corporation, to avail themselves of taxpayer dollars without public scrutiny, then turn around and make monumental profits on the same money through self interest driven investments is legally sanctioned theft of public moneys for personal profit.  Our country has been hijacked.  Our current system of government affords the taxpayers no protection from the legal theft of their tax dollars by a powerful Banking Mafia.  In precipitating the current economic crisis they have not been made by law to right the wrong and harm that they willfully created.  Our current government is an indentured servant to corporate America facilitated and anchored by our current private funding campaign finance laws.  We sold our country to the highest donors.  All campaign financing must be restricted to public financing for every level of government, other wise we remain in status quo.  No privately owned corporation should be allowed to run the monetary system of the US.  The Fed needs to go.

Elizabeth Warren in 2016!

Or maybe even 2012 VP.

The brave OWS folks have made their main point that the 1%/99% divvy of wealth in America brought about by rigged tax and CEO compensation systems and can now go home, take warm showers and get some got rest now the cold is coming on.

Their job is only half done, IMO. The other half is seeing to it that they will get candidates running for Congress, Dems and GOP/Tea Partiers both, who will be committing to work for working class Americans interests elected in 2012.

Without following up on electing those candidates we can expect the unfair tax system to be continued so c’mon guys,

See you at the polling places voting for the right candidates to do our work instead of working for their own and the fat-cats interests.

Debbie Niemeyer

Dec. 1, 2011, 1:24 p.m.

I’m tired of writers being way too pedantic and technicratic…this article is just bad writing. I’d rather read something from A Huffington.

I agree with the idea of publicly funding campaigns, http://www.americanselect.org may be a first step in the battle to eliminate big money’s influence on our politics.

The fact that Goldman and other big banks get to jump in front of trades is disgusting and needs to end. The NYSE is not going to self-regulate this. We need legislation that makes high frequency trading illegal or too expensive to jusify.

I am all for breaking up the big banks, but if we do the US would be in violation of the WTO- opening itself up to sanctions from other member nations. We need to back out of the WTO and any other treaty that hampers our ability to legislate our domestic affairs.

If we resurrect Glass-Steagall we may be in violation of the WTO.

We also need to increase the capital gains tax and reinstate a meaningful estate tax. This may quell the revolt and provide the revenues to sustain our social safety net. 

We would benefit if we tightened the lobbying rules and broadened the legal definition of lobbying. We need to look into how representatives in Washington are becoming rich, determine if they are putting their private interests above the interests of the public, determine if their actions violate their oath of office or any other laws, and severely punish violators. I think an elected representative who privately benefits from his/her public decisions should be tried for treason. 

Capitalism is failing us; for the populist uprising to wane a greater sense of equality will have to emerge. This can only be done by legislation that protects the future from the ills of the past and by prosecution that ensures that those who violate the law will be held accountable despite their power/wealth.

Wow!  Intelligent commentary!  I’ve been looking in the wrong places.  Public financing of all political campaigns is a nice dream.  Now the House GOP wants to eliminate it altogether. 
Personally, I never checked that box on my tax return because of disdain for things political mixing with my bills (or job, or…)  Maybe we should just fix what’s broken with what we already have.
Further, I don’t see the point in dismantling federal efforts to ensure fair elections.
I’m an Obama fan.  However, his refusal of public funds is a sign of the problem, isn’t it?  Raise enough money and you will be heard over the others?

Jawaralal Schwartz

Dec. 1, 2011, 2:47 p.m.

Wall Street is what it is, and more than half of us have stakes in it—union trust funds, mutual funds, bank deposits, brokerage accounts.  We can also be victims, as investors, but we are part of the problem.
The Obama administration remains a major issue.  The president appoints the leader of the industry’s faux self-regulator to head the SEC, which is packed with incompetents, lazy people, and others clueless about the industry they are supposed to regulate.  Obama’s Justice Dept. has pitifully few investigations and prosecutions of Wall Street miscreants.  Obama only looks good in comparison to any of the feckless Rethuglicans.

An exposition on the more beautiful economic condition of our future: http://sacred-economics.com/

E. Henry Schoenberger

Dec. 1, 2011, 4:20 p.m.

Where have these people been for the past 30 years! Silently raking it in, or just watching in the shadows of contributory negligence! Just a few more thoughts from an insider - me. In Sept 2008, the Fed (Geithner was the Vice Ch.) gave permission to the investment banks (not eligible for Fed or FDIC funds) to become Bank Holding Cos. So from January of 2009 the investment banks, like Goldman and Morgan, were eligible for all the money the Fed could give them - and from that day (and hopefully not ever after, or forever more)  were then called BANKS.

The trading firm guy sounds envious, but is not mad about the velocity of computer trades at milliseconds ahead of the market - which technically should be regarded as “front running” which is illegal but not enforced - just like it was illegal to have ever issued a security which was “too complex to explain.”

My new objective, accurate and vehement book - How We Got Swindled by Wall Street Godfathers, Greed & Financial Darwinism ~ The 30-Year War Against the American Dream; foreword by David Satterfield, former business editor of the Miami Herald and 2 times Pulitzer Prize-winner - exposes all of the culprits and controlling issue which add up to the whole truth behind how we have arrived back in a kind of depression - refer to Paul Krugman. Swindled answers all the unanswered questions. http://www.howwegotswindled.com

This otherwise good reporting falls apart with this:  “they are as flummoxed about practical solutions as the rest of us”.

Nonsense.  Practical solutions abound: reinstate Glass-Steagall, enforce the criminal laws against control fraud, robosigning, fraudclosure and so forth; do actual and effective debt writedowns….. get money out of politics and so forth.

Beware reporters who write “practical” as adjective of solutions—it’s a telltale sign of defending the status quo

I just love Newt Gingrich, and others, saying the Occupy Wall Street protestors should go get a job.  Unfortunatley, the media concentrates on the anarchists who take over every movement and cause trouble.  Sometimes they are hired by opposition to purposely make trouble to try to kill the movement.  I know many normal,  working and retired Americans who have gone to Occupy protests on their days and evenings off because they see and are sickened by Wall Street excesses.  Thanks to all those who are taking time to bring awareness to the rest of us.  Hopefully, those Wall Street traders who are also sickened by the current state of profit making will stand up and be heard as well.  Perhaps Wall Streeters for Market Reform?

Does the word “cockamamie” mean anything to you people?  The government IS the problem, you dweebals!  So what’s the answer?  More government?  Reinstate Glass-Stegal?  Elect more dipsh*ts like Obama?

We have two hundred twenty years of government to look back on, yet the consensus here is “we need more of the same”.  In the history of the WORLD, no government ever did anything but protect the wealth of the wealthy.

I weep for my country, so filled with ideological nitwits and morons pretending their PhD’s means their intelligent.  I look back at the men and women who founded this country and wonder how a people with nominal education and opportunity could be smarter, more educated and logical than the 99% of the people breathing today.

You want to level the playing field?  Then dismantle the federal government, return the power to the states and from the states to local communities, where individuals and corporations can be held accountable.  That is the only way, but you nitwits cannot fathom such a thing, can you?  Your sitting there thinking to your selves, “that can’t possibly be right”, without one skosh of evidence or example that it is or isn’t the reality.  You just “know” that can’t be true, isn’t that right, Cletus?

This house of cards is about to come down, my little lambs.  None of you have any idea how far gone the world banking system is, do you?  None of you has a clue that the powers that be are pulling every lever at their disposal to try and stop the inevitable.  Very soon, the governments of the world, in unison, will begin the process of imposing restrictions (anyone know what a bank holiday is or who thought them up and enforced them?).  The very people you numpty’s think can “save” us, “oh, if ONLY we had the right people!”  Where do the bankers get their money, little sheep?  They don’t manufacture it themselves!  They don’t steal it from old lady’s purses!  Are you smart enough to understand the the Federal Reserve, that “independent” agency is the one who CREATES the greenbacks and decides who and where they’re distributed?  Not not one of the comments above me talks like they have the slightest idea.  You’re all completely clueless.

You’re about to see horrible, animalistic, brutal, violent behavior brought to you by your OWS friends (not the tea party, morons) who cajoled you into thinking dissent was needed, and you fell for it hook, line and sinker.  Now the government is going to allow these sociopaths to instill the fear of god and unleash the wrath of hell on the little citizen sheep.  Now why would they do that?  Huh?

Chibli Mallat

Dec. 3, 2011, 6:59 p.m.

Americanize Wall Street. Give fair,  real ownership to the US taxpayers for the share they invested to save the banks. Don’t occupy wall street, Americanize it.

Dr Raj Thamotheram

Dec. 5, 2011, 12:40 p.m.

Chibli is right.  But actually, its already happened to a large degree, through pension funds as Drucker identified many decades ago (see “The Pension Fund Revolution” and “Post Capitalist Society”).

But Americans and other “citizen investors” from other countries haven’t realised it or valued it or made sure this system works as it should.  And in the same way that a democracy which isn’t watched over quickly becomes corrupted by special interests, so the fiduciaries of the investment system has largely looked the other way whilst enormous conflicts of interests and agency issues have developed. 

Every country is challenged but things that are considered the norm in the USA (eg the impotence of shareholders to hire or fire boards) simply wouldnt be tolerated in the UK or Australia, which are also “Anglo Saxon” capitalist markets.  Given USA was created by those who objected to the rule of kings, the complete lack of economic democracy - including a deep seated antipathy to even an independent chairman - is indeed strange.

So this article is good news and similar trends are happening in other markets.  In the UK, for example, it’s clear that when able to answer as individuals, financial professionals know what is wrong.  A recent showed that most people in finance thought finance professionals are over-paid!  http://bit.ly/u5TGHO

And senior investment professionals have come together as individuals in a club called the 300 Group (remember the Spartans?) to ‘spotlight irrational and dangerous investment behaviour’ and challenge their organisations and peers.  http://bit.ly/rgMDpX

That sad, unlike business schools who are doing a lot to get ethics, sustainability into the core curriculum, not much has changed with the CFA and equivalents. 

So some cause for hope for the “profession” but a long way to go!

IN SEVEN WORDS

{Over the next year, maybe that will change. Things are going to be tough on Wall Street. Bonuses will be down. Layoffs are coming. Europe seems on the brink of another financial crisis. Maybe from that wreckage, a leader will emerge.}

Don’t count on it. There are are far too many vested-interests at play.

One thing could happen: That Americans awaken from the false-dream that free-enterprise enriches everybody. That Reagan’s promise to get “government off our backs” was also sleep-dust in our eyes.

Most developed countries have adopted Social Democrat policies that encourage the enhancement of well-being of their citizens. It is not markets that accomplish that goal, except for a very select few.

(To understand better who, see this penetrating analysis of wealth in America today: http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html )

The challenge of Income Disparity is key to putting our country on a moral parity in terms of Social Justice with Europe - which has known better than we to implement policy (namely, taxation measures) assuring that the profits of our labor, that drive the economy, derive also returns to our labor that enhance the well-being of all the nation’s citizens.

In seven words: Income Disparity is inherently immoral and unconscionable.

Michael J. Schroeder

Dec. 5, 2011, 1:53 p.m.

The comments of “Publius” (above) evince many of the problems that make intelligent dialogue on these issues so hard to come by:  disparaging name-calling (“nitwits,” “morons,” “sheep” & similar terms meant to delegitimize the views of anyone who disagrees with her/him), vastly oversimplified & evidence-free commentary & opinion masquerading as analysis, and to my mind a simplistic & misleading interpretation of history.  Time & again history has shown that unregulated markets simply do not work, starting with the Great South Sea Bubble in the early 18th century, thru the depressions of the 1870s & 1890s, the Great Depression & now the Great Recession.  The notion that the vast power of multinational corporations can be reined in by the miniscule power of “local communities” is absurd.  What in fact we need is what ultimately inspires the Arab Spring:  accountable government in a genuinely representative democracy—a “democracy” that cannot coexist with yawning disparities in wealth & power among the citizenry.

{MJS: The comments of “Publius” (above) evince many of the problems that make intelligent dialogue on these issues so hard to come by}

Don’t feed the trolls. They only get more voracious.

Put them on your SOB list. (SOB = Scroll On By ;^)

IT’S ALL ABOUT TAXATION

{The insiders have a critique similar to that of the outsiders. The financial industry has strayed far from being an intermediary between companies that want to raise capital so they can sell people things they want. Instead, it is a machine to enrich itself, fleecing customers and exacerbating inequality}

Change the word “Instead” to “Because”. It is indeed a self-enrichment machine. But how?

Consider that the marginal income tax rate was above 70% from the mid-1930s to the early 1960s. In 1980, Reckless Ronnie began to pull them down to around 30%. The IRS estimates that, with deductions, they are somewhere in between 22/25% today.

One can imagine the motivation that gives to people who want to make an easy megabuck on Wall Street. They are literally at the right place, at the right time. But if Wall Street is out for the Almighty Dollar, then so is Main Street – because our system of taxation prompts people to do so.

Reckless Ronnie opened Pandora’s Box of Ills that plague this nation.

The earnings on Wall Street are hallucinatory. The net income that, with time, becomes accrued wealth as well. We are a society fascinated by wealth. We adulate the rich. Celebrities become our role models. We have become a monochromatic nation and the unique color is that of the dollar.

Furthermore, consider this info-graphic that shows Income Taxes and the Federal debt here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Taxes_debt.png

Note the red line that is highest level Taxation and how it drops precipitously in 1980. Look also at the green line, National Debt – at the same time our National Debt inflexed upwards like a shot.

And who is going to continue paying that National Debt? You and me, suckers that we are. Because of the “permanent payback” that Ronnie gave for the patronage that helped him get elected.

MY POINT

If we want to address the matter of Income Unfairness, then it is by taxation policy that that objective can be reached. Putting marginal income tax rates back up above 70% will help do the job. Not only, but it will help us pay-off the National Debt. And, just maybe, institute some Social Justice in our country by means of investments that enhance the well-being of the American people.

I’m all for an American National Health System, like the one I have in France that is considered one of the finest on earth. One that is Medicare for all Americans, regardless of age, sex, geography or employment situation. Of course, should a Public Health Option be implemented the BigInsurance CEO’s will shriek like banshees.

Which will be music to my ears ...

Fred Magovern

Dec. 5, 2011, 7:47 p.m.

Jesse,

I think you miss the boat w/ your last sentence. Hoping for a savior to bring reform is a fantasy that will never be realized. What makes OWS so inspiring is that they do not focus on electoral politics or reform, but instead champion a direct democratic process that empowers communities to meet their own needs.

{Hoping for a savior to bring reform is a fantasy that will never be realized.}

In all outcomes, there is first hope. then action.

Stop the bitching-in- a-blog and get out and militate.

It’s all about the math and they could not have pulled off what they did on Wall Street without it.  Through coding manipulation and add on some steroid marketing, they pull the wool over our eyes. 

Analytics driven by cost only are scary too.  When you stop and think about what heath care (payer side) and credit companies are doing with having consumers verify and check out and correct even more data they get their hands on, it’s rat race and we just chase data that we did not enter and in the past this was manageable, but not now as this scenario builds.  It’s all about what I call The Attack of the Killer Algorithms and part 6 is here that explains this in detail. 

Who has time to work and check out something minor on a cell phone bill from 5 years ago?  That’s coming with more data sad to say and there will be a time when all of us have some blemish but paradigms that die hard tell us if you see something on that screen, it’s bad when it may be an error or on there for good reason, like a divorce or other such items that get on credit and healthcare payer data bases.

Discrimination by the algoirthms…

http://ducknetweb.blogspot.com/2011/12/attack-of-killer-algorithms-part.html

Wow, the best piece written about this topic that I have come across. Very interesting.

{Over the next year, maybe that will change. Things are going to be tough on Wall Street. Bonuses will be down. Layoffs are coming. Europe seems on the brink of another financial crisis. Maybe from that wreckage, a leader will emerge.}

Who needs a saviour? We should not be waiting for an Eliot Ness to clean out this Pirate Pack and bring justice to us. We have all we need in the ballot box.

The Congressional Congress of Progressives consists of 83 politicians, nearly all Democrat and one Republican (and only Senator) - of the total 435 in both Chambers of Congress. That number is barely 20% of the total. Which is large enough for a base from which to grow.

The will to break away from the lamentable two-party system is great. Election rules, either in the manner in which districting encrusts the present two-party system into Congress, or the de facto electoral aberration of SuperPACs is almost insurmountable. Which means what?

It means that many more Progressives in Congress must be elected giving us a real alternative to conventional politics in LaLaLand on the Potomac. It is by this manner that we can do some real good for the well-being of the American people. First by changing electoral rules and then by adopting a progressive agenda for reform of the nation.

And what might that agenda look like. My contribution to the debate, from years of living and witnessing how progressive politics brought about Social Justice in Europe is here: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxDaVjkRehhSNGZmODAyZDgtNWMyNC00ZmM4LWI0YmItNWYzNWI5OTY3YzBh/edit

I don’t want to change the world. I just want to assure for my children and fellow Americans the sort of Social Investments that bring, finally, fairness to our country.

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Jesse Eisinger

About The Trade

In this column, co-published with New York Times' DealBook, I monitor the financial markets to hold companies, executives and government officials accountable for their actions. Tips? Praise? Contact me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)