h&f 0055 When The Markets Became Human …and Cried Like Babies

“… futures trading was halted on the S&P. Futures trading is essentially a bet on what will happen when the markets open.”  Washington Post

“…Sept. 19 (Bloomberg) — The Securities and Exchange
Commission halted short selling of 799 financial companies,
pressing an assault on speculators after the collapse of Lehman
Brothers Holdings Inc. and American International Group Inc.”

Now let’s think:  Artificially halted futures trading; Artificially halted short selling; A huge government intervention in process, principle, and payment in private companies.

In short, plain lifelines given to protect people who started companies and dared to put themselves at the risk and aim for the reward of a free market.  Juxtapose that against our underserved and low-income people in the United States who have also submitted to a free market of labor and liberty and who, by and large, have had too much pride to run begging to the government crying, “Save Us From The Market!”  “The Speculators Want To Hurt Me!”

Instead, the most active advocacy has been for better schools, fair wages, no discrimination and NOT for a simple handout of cash and artificial umbrella of protection from self-generated destruction.  Go to the leading good citizens in poor communities and you will find a clear “you don’t work you don’t eat” ethic exercised heavily on their offspring as they are urged to go to college and do great things.  Pride alone would not allow an immigrant to say, “The market has hurt me.  It’s my fault.  Give me a check.”

Yes, there are examples of that.  I am in no way praising a class of people as automatically virtuous for being poor.  Instead, I am singling out how the best of the community handle the underperformers.  In fact, i am not against subsidies and tax breaks, in principle, if they are properly used as currency between companies and communities in the trading of jobs for early cash benefits.  It’s not ideal in the pure sense of a company having to fend for itself, but the greater good can be achieved if, for a nominal trade, a company locates itself in a US community and creates a long-term employment scenario based on major investment.  Markets are created with that negotiation.  But that’s not the way this works.

On Wall Street, the biggest companies ask for handouts, many of them having received generous subsidies and tax treatments from the government, i.e. us.  On my street, the underperformers in any sphere better not dare have that kind of gall to ask for that treatment.

Let’s go even to the emblem that brands blacks as a trifling class of people – rap music.  In its earliest day and still surviving in pockets today, there is an intense meritocracy.  If your rhymes are wack, people will let you know and will not allow you the stage.  It is vicious, but with an undercurrent of love as an underperforming rapper can go to his woodshed and get his game on track, return to the scene with tight flow and be crowned king, earning it.

The emblem of free market capitalism, Wall Street, turns out to be nothing more than Superman on a string.  He jumps because he knows he’ll never really fall.  He flies with pure confidence knowing that WE will not allow him to fall on his own lack of merit.  The markets will “come back” only when totally assured of government insurance against failure.  Let’s be literal with this: 

  • Australian markets surge on government guarantee…
  • Barclays is set to become the first lender to use the Government’s £250
    billion bank debt guarantee, raising up to £1 billion through the sale of
    three-year notes, a move that mortgage brokers hope will kick-start the
    market.
  • Before the bailout, setting the dire stage was President Bush urging the bailout. “I’m a strong believer in free enterprise, so my natural instinct
    is to oppose government intervention,” he said. But “these are not
    normal circumstances. The market is not functioning properly. There has
    been a widespread loss of confidence.” [Yes, the market NEEDS the government for its confidence.  Superman cannot fly alone.]  BBC
  • After the bailout, hedging expectations…  “The $700 billion federal financial rescue bill was not a guarantee that stock markets would rise, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.”

Now, let’s bring it all to bear with a simple question:  What if actual people were treated as the market?

We are right not to want that – to spend others’ money to bail out admitted slackers.  Instead, we have a populus making legitimate requests for a cooperative agreement betweent government and its citizens.  For example, welfare, when used as a temporary help recognizes that sometimes people hit hard times, but, more importantly, it recognizes that it’s worth it to the country not to have that resource (the people) without any recourse.  Abuse should be punished, but we cannot deny our interconnectedness and the role of taxes paying for our general welfare by ensuring the services individuals or the private sector cannot efficiently provide.

People who advocate for people are called beggars.  People who advocate for bailouts of personally able leaders of our free market system are called… capitalists?  Still?

The fearless man of industry now speaks open paradox, begging for help so he can start the process all over again.  …and we fear giving education to marginalized peoples through Affirmative Action, a system who’s intent is to allow CAPABLE people access to the earned benefits of our collective work to ensure liberty and opportunity.

Be ready for the next bubble when the markets cry out as the mythical, denigrated humans who, instead of asking for a hand as real people do, simply ask for a handout to ply the same scenario once our short-term memory heals.

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~ by ericjhenderson on October 24, 2008.

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