Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Not So Invisible Hand

Life isn't fair.  

I can agree with my conservative friends that to expect our institutions to make life fair is absurd. 

One naively imagines that mankind's institutions should not, however, nurture a system that favors the pampered few at the expense of the many. When Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were in the Yankee's lineup, the commissioner didn't give them a five run lead before the game started. That is how our economic and political system seems to work right now, a consequence of people with an 80 yard lead in a 100 yard dash giving massive political donations to buy access and consideration from our elected officials in order keep the head start. The countless millions without the ability to make attention grabbing political donations have difficulty flashing something shiny enough to get an elected officials attention.

Occupy Wall Street groups around the country are being thumped these days with tear gas, rubber bullets and clubs by taxpayer supported folks in uniforms. The boys and girls on Wall Street, who help finance the campaigns of the elected officials who oversee the folks in uniforms, are puzzled by criticism of their role in our economic predicament. Things are swell overlooking Central Park. Their's is a Darwinian mindset. They are being rewarded for being the best of the best, for being from a favored genetic pool. Those who are suffering? They simply don't apply themselves, are consumed with sloth, and, frankly, are hampered by a not so favored DNA profile.

They boys and girls on Wall Street simply chose their parents well, and are being rewarded as such.

One notes that the problem isn't that life isn't fair, the problem is a powerful few convincing themselves that it is best for all that our institutions be engineered to favor the interests of the powerful few over the interests of the powerless many.

"John Paulson, the hedge-fund trader who famously made billions betting on the collapse of the housing market, was threatened by the demonstrators with a march on his Upper East Side home in New York last month. Paulson responded by putting out a press release that described his $28 billion, 120-person fund as an exemplar of the American Dream: "Instead of vilifying our most successful businesses, we should be supporting them and encouraging them to remain in New York City."

Other captains of finance like to portray themselves as humble entrepreneurs. One owner of a multi-billion-dollar hedge fund grumbled in the midst of the financial crisis that he has to worry not only about making trading decisions but also about "all the hassles the come with running asmall business."

With U.S. cities moving this week to crack down on Occupy Wall Street encampments - including the one in New York's Zuccotti Park - the staying power of the movement is in question. Whatever its future, it's clear that so far, the Occupiers haven't changed many minds on Wall Street over blame for the country's hard times. The cognitive disconnect between the protesters and the captains of finance is alive and well."
Read more:     Why Wall Street Doesn't Get It       Matthew Goldstein