Wall Street and its senior bankers have laid America down to sleep. They have done it in less than one generation. They lost their way and corrupted their role in our capitalist society, having used wealth to control and manipulate the political process, producing ever increasing, and even obscene, wealth.
For the purpose of this article, Wall Street refers to the agglomerated mess of brokerages and banks invigorated by Clinton’s passing of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999, repealing the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, separating deposits from the speculation of the stock market casino. After which, Clinton doubled down with the Commodity Futures Modernization Act which lifted regulation on derivatives.
The incompetence and inexperience of a self-serving Democratic Administration inflicted a ‘coup de gras’ on America’s middle class. Clinton’s Presidency was a wretched turning point in U.S. History, but not because of ‘blue dress’ evidence. Wall Street, led by Goldman Sachs, further influenced government through alumni like Rubin, Summers and Greenspan, and seized the highest hill in human affairs — control over money and all of its processes, nationally and internationally. Wall Street vanquished the vast American Middle Class including small to medium sized businesses.
For years Wall Street had manipulated corporations through the process of taking them to the ‘public’ feeding trough for decades. Changes in regulations enabled new out-of-control windfalls of hundreds of billions, which in turn further fuelled abuse of the political system. Politicians have been clueless, and Wall Street has enjoyed the ride. Wall Street has abused the public purse, and has abused the taxpayer. It cares little which of two political parties is in power, and as long as it has control of the reigns firmly locked in the jaws of politicians, either in the White House or in Congress. Wall Street has not cared much which party held control. Everyone has been under its control and managed.
Encouraged by our illustrious media, which cannot help but fawn over wealth, senior bankers and so-called titans of industry have demonstrated a dearth of morals and principles. Morals and principles have become leisure activities best reserved for occasional mental exercise while trotting around a hobby farm in Connecticut, or sharing martinis on a Sunday afternoon in the Hamptons.
Life is easy when you have bought anyone who might activate a speed bump on your path of rampage. You don’t even need a ‘get-out-of-jail’ card, since your ‘protégé’ will never prosecute you or your friends of anything, ever. Pillage as you will. Until . . .
Summer of 2015 finds a well known name crashing the political parade, as a guy named Trump stomps to a podium and almost as if suffering from a very mild case of ’Tourette’ syndrome, blurts out claims and comments that, like him or hate him, everyone can’t get enough of. Trump is an unwelcomed political neophyte, an out of place usurper, and yet he continues to surprise, exploding in the polls, and practically all members of the media seem unable to understand or explain why. They think they know him, and yet they know nothing.
The adjectives wrestled from the bowels of the NYT or LA Times thesauruses have become as entertaining as Trump’s often politically incorrect belches, insulting everyone and anyone who reacts negatively to him or takes a jab at him. What a boor, we think, and yet he takes stands no one else has taken. Both Democrats and Republicans agonize over where he stands, and many Republicans accuse him of not being a conservative. As much as Democrats like to pretend otherwise, Trump has developed support across all racial lines through a vast swath of the middle class. Although many believe his most important stance relates to “a wall” along the Mexican border, I sense that the distinction which could well win him the Presidency concerns his relationship with Wall Street.
Trump’s history with the banks is, . . . well, to put it simply — he ate their lunch. His very ‘results oriented’ leadership built an empire that never went to Wall Street brokerages to lever the value of his assets in the public markets. Although many “public” individuals have higher valuations of personal wealth resulting from value of their ‘paper’, Trump’s wealth is principally comprised of hard assets.
Trump is also smart enough to understand the banking system, and the fact that too many Wall Streeters have accumulated massive wealth based on creating nothing. His plan to close a loop hole that allows hedge fund managers to pay lower taxes on what is termed ‘carried interest’, for example, does not mean he is all about raising people’s taxes, as some Democrats and Republicans pretend. It is about common sense.
I can’t help but enjoy reading comments such as this one from a Wall Street CEO, “I don’t know anyone who is a Donald Trump supporter. They are like this huge mystery group.” These geniuses hide in concrete and glass cocoons, occasionally observing the world sliding under their private jets with uninsightful self-righteousness. Trump may travel in his own plane, but he is not one of them. From the Republican offering, they prefer someone like Kasich, who spent years as a Wall Streeter at Lehman Bros. Brokers and bankers are not what I’d consider “business men.” Never have and never will. Paper shufflers and ruthless salesmen maybe, but not business men. Trump may be rightfully cited for occasional boorishness, but Trump is a business man. As he told Bloomberg, “The middle class is getting clobbered in this country. The middle class built this country, not the hedge fund guys.” He is absolutely right when he states, “These guys shift paper around and they get lucky.”
Trump is the only political candidate of either party who will not be owned. Most importantly, he will not be owned by Wall Street. Wall Street would prefer any other candidate of any stipe, red or blue, over Trump. He is the only applicant for the Oval Office who can state and mean, as he did recently, “The only people that have control of me are the people of the United States.”
Wall Street is afraid of Trump. The Street claims he is too unpredictable. That is not why it hates him. On the Street, “unpredictable” means “we don’t own him and can’t control him.” It is further proof that the likes of Obama and Clinton are and have always been ready, willing and able to be ‘bought’. Wall Street is throwing millions of dollars against Trump, hoping desperately someone, anyone, can unseat him from his throne atop the polls. Trump’s grasp on the middle class consciousness may be very difficult to unclasp.
Sanders, evidently another America hating Democrat, is flailing about angrily, attempting to stir socialist winds to fill his sails, navigating toward overwhelming and invasive government — because that is good for you, don’t you know. Trump, in contrast, proclaims enthusiastically that he knows the road toward self fulfillment. He raises a lantern on the road toward middle class success, while resonating positively on national security — Wall Street be damned. After years of leadership under a President who had accomplished nothing in his life, and negotiated nothing, when Trump stands and makes claims, “I will . . .,” it matters little what follows “I will.” People know he succeeded, and when he says he will succeed, they believe him.
Trump, with all his blemishes, may be the only thing standing between Wall Street and the complete economic destruction of America’s middle class.