When Bankers Rule The World
Photo Credit: Will-travel
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
The tell-all defection of Greg Smith , a former Goldman Sachs executive, provided an insider’s view of the moral corruption of the Wall Street banks that control of much of America’s economy and politics. Smith confirms what insightful observers have known for years: the business purpose of Wall Street bankers is to maximize their personal financial take without regard to the consequences for others.
Why has the public for so long tolerated Wall Street’s reckless abuses of power and accepted the resulting devastation? The answer lies in cultural trance ; induced by deceptive language and misleading indicators backed by flawed economic theory and accounting sleight-of-hand. To shatter the trance we need to recognize that the deception that Wall Street promotes through its well-funded PR machine rests on three false premises.
- We best fulfill our individual moral obligation to society by maximizing our personal financial gain.
- Money is wealth and making money increases the wealth of the society.
- Making money is the proper purpose of the individual enterprise and is the proper measure of prosperity and economic performance.
Wall Street aggressively promotes these fallacies as guiding moral principles. Their embrace by Wall Street insiders helps to explain how they are able to reward themselves with obscene bonuses for their successful use of deception, fraud, speculation, and usury to steal wealth they have had no part in creating and yet still believe, as Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein famously proclaimed, that they are “ doing God’s work .”
The devastation created by Wall Street’s failure affirms three truths that are the foundation on which millions of people are at work building a New Economy :
- Our individual and collective well-being depends on acting with concern for the well-being of others. We all do better when we look out for one another.
- Money is not wealth. It is just numbers. Sacrificing the health and happiness of billions of people to grow numbers on computer hard drives to improve one’s score on the Forbes Magazine list of the world’s richest people is immoral. Managing a society’s economy to facilitate this immoral competition at the expense of people and nature is an act of collective insanity.
- The proper purpose of the economy and the enterprises that comprise it is to provide good jobs and quality goods and services beneficial to the health and happiness of people, community and nature. A modest financial profit is essential to a firm’s viability, but is not its proper purpose.
The critical distinction between making money and creating wealth is the key to seeing through Wall Street’s illusions.
Real wealth includes healthful food; fertile land; pure water; clean air; caring relationships; healthy, happy children; quality education and health care; fulfilling opportunities for service; peace; and time for meditation and spiritual reflection. These are among the many forms of real wealth to which we properly expect a sound economy to contribute. It is a very, very bad idea to yield control of the issuance and allocation of credit (money) to Wall Street banks run by con artists who operate beyond the reach of public accountability.
Wall Street has so corrupted our language, however, that it is difficult even to express the crucial distinction between money (a facilitator of economic activity), and real wealth (the purpose of economic activity).
Financial commentators routinely use terms like wealth, capital, resources, and assets when referring to phantom wealth financial assets, which makes them sound like something real and substantial—whether or not they are backed by anything of real value. Similarly, they identify folks engaged in market speculation and manipulation as investors, thus glossing over the distinction between those who game the system to expropriate wealth and those who contribute to its creation.