Of Wall Street and Drug Pushers…
Over the last decade, we Americans have been blindsided, lied to and brainwashed…you included. The frenzied, deceitful, monstrous machine that was/is Wall Street began putting together knowingly criminal bundles of manure, like credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations. They began the process of literally throwing money out of a window to see how many gullible Americans would scurry and scramble to snap up the loose and easy to pocket cash. Naturally, millions of Americans took advantage of this easy windfall and began their quest for real estate and relaxed lending. Oh, how the housing bubble expanded. Wall Street mustache-twisters were dancing the Macarena around board room long tables and on the decks of their newly, custom built yachts. Americans were flipping houses and the American financial sector was flipping the American middle-class their middle fingers. It was the best of times, running at full speed toward the worst of times. As long as Americans were coming back and standing in line with their trick-or-treat bags held open wide for more of that sweet treat…everyone won and no one would be the wiser.
Understanding how a street-level drug pusher works will help to emphasize my point of this article. You see, a pusher has a product that is against the law to dispense. An addict understands that get caught by authorities with said product will result in the loss of freedom or worse. Yet, the pulsating, intense rush of that product is far too much a temptation to walk away from, let alone quit cold-turkey. Knowing this, a drug pusher will take a small financial hit for new, potentially long-term users and offer the first transaction to the addict at a reduced price. The addict appreciates the gesture and makes a decision to return to this particular pusher time and time again. It’s a low, sickening symbiosis that develops between the user and the treat dispenser. It happens everyday in America. Right now, as you read these words, countless drug transactions are taking place only miles from you…maybe even feet.
Wall Street during the ‘boom and bubble’ years was America’s favorite pusher. Warm smiles and firm hand shakes across a broker’s desk lead Americans into believing they could handle all of the financial responsibilities those ethical, smarter-than-you Wall Street folks were bestowing upon us. After all, what could go wrong? That feel-good rush was too much to resist.
“No job, no collateral, no down payment? No problem, American. We believe in you and your word. Pay us back when you can. In fact, my manager has just authorized me to rewrite your loan agreement in such a way (because we think you’re just the best) that we’re going to let you pay only on the interest of this gift! Heck, when those payments start to get a tad bigger in the future, WAY IN THE FUTURE…you’ll be well on your way to retirement!”
Sadly, we know how this story ended. It ended with a destroyed housing market and an economy flailing and foundering against the rocks as the rest of the damaged world glared at we Americans from behind painfully damaged financial portfolios of our creation. And now with a vanishing middle-class and millions out of work, America must suffer through a gut-wrenching rehab program of austerity that is as tasteful as sucking on a penny.
Will today’s America be as stoic, reserved and resolved as the Greatest Generation was during the Great Depression? Can we even comprehend that kind of sacrifice, clean up our materialistic act and steer clear of the next dealer pushing his product ‘bubble’ on us?