“Wall Street Dividend” vs. “Peace Dividend”
[Note to Readers: this post originally appeared two weeks ago. I’m re-running it now because it ran on a weekend, when traffic is light; because Nov. 19 is the actual anniversary date; and because it’s the best piece I’ve written this year, IMHO — even if The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc. declined to run it.]
Tomorrow marks the 146th Anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
What would he say about today’s financial melt-down?
My guess is that it would sound something like this:
Three score and sixteen years ago, this country’s leaders put in place a series of financial reforms designed to repair the damage from the worst financial collapse the United States has ever known — and to prevent future such collapses.
They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.
Due to their efforts, America’s capital markets — and as a result, America — enjoyed almost 70 years of economic growth unsurpassed in history, benefiting virtually every U.S. citizen, no matter their background or walk of life.
That prosperity is once again threatened — indeed, has already been severely damaged — by Wall Street greed and excess.
There is no way to undo the misery already suffered by millions of Americans, who have lost their homes, jobs, and economic security due to Wall Street avarice.
But it is fully within our power to make sure that that sacrifice shall not be in vain.
Let us therefore resolve to redeem this most recent upheaval by rededicating ourselves to the task begun more than three generations ago.
Namely, that we commit to rearranging our economy and financial affairs — employing all the technological brilliance, resourcefulness, and wisdom that we can summon — so as to render Wall Street not just tamed but obsolete, never able to wreak such havoc again.
One of the key reasons that the ’90’s were so prosperous was the so-called “Peace Dividend”: the defense savings that Western economies — and particularly the U.S. — realized after the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union crumbled, effectively ending the Cold War.
That would pale in comparison to “The Wall Street Dividend.”