Efforts to fix Wall Street miss an important point. It can’t be fixed. It is corrupt beyond repair, and we cannot afford it. Moreover, because the essential functions it does perform are served better in less costly ways, we do not need it.
Wall Street’s only business purpose is to enrich its own major players, a bunch of buccaneers and privateers who find it more profitable to expropriate the wealth of others than to find honest jobs producing goods and services beneficial to their communities. They walk away with their fees, commissions, and bonus packages and leave it to others to pick up the costs of federal bailouts, gyrating economic cycles, collapsing environmental systems, broken families, shattered communities, and the export of jobs along with the manufacturing, technology, and research capacities that go with them.
Even more damaging in some ways than the economic costs are the spiritual and psychological costs of a Wall Street culture that celebrates greed, favors the emotionally and morally challenged with outsized compensation packages, and denies the human capacity for cooperation and sharing. Running out of control and delinked from reality, Wall Street has created an Alice in Wonderland phantom-wealth world in which prospective financial claims and the expectations that go with them exceed the value of all the world’s real wealth by orders of magnitude.
We can no longer afford to acquiesce to a system of rule by those engaged in the pursuit of phantom wealth far beyond any conceivable need—and to no evident end other than to accumulate points in a contest for the top spots on the Forbes list of richest people.
Chapter 5, “What Wall Street Really Wants,” explains why there is no limit to Wall Street greed and how its institutions use the economic and political muscle of their monopoly control of the creation and allocation of money to get what they want: Everything!
Chapter 6, “Buccaneers and Privateers,” provides an evocative history of the role that licensed pirates and chartered corporations played in the transition from rule by kings—who found them a cheap substitute for official navies and a useful means of circumventing parliamentary oversight—to rule by global financiers.
Chapter 7, “The High Cost of Phantom Wealth,” describes how Wall Street players reap enormous financial rewards for creating phantom expectations through their use of complex financial instruments that defy understanding.
Chapter 8, “The End of Empire,” describes Wall Street’s rule by the power of money as an extension of five thousand years of imperial rule by kings and emperors who wielded the power of the sword.