Originally, I thought this protest situation was just another activist group on Wall Street that would be forgotten about in a matter of days, but after about a month of protesting, it looks like this group is here to stay. I think it is important to look into the concerns and demands of these protesters to understand why they are occupying Wall Street.
Some of the main points that the protesters are against are corporate greed, economic inequality, and the functionality of these banks, but what actually is corporate greed? It is well-known and often disputed that large banks on Wall Street use other people’s money to bet and earn money for themselves. However, this is well-known and people involved in these deals are aware that the banks will be using their money. What they don’t necessarily know is how it will be used and the problems arise when banks become too greedy with other people’s money. People often refer to the epic failures of Lehman and other financial firms, thinking that all banks are doing the same thing, but most of these things were actually illegal! I hope that with the stricter regulations put in place, banks would not even be allowed to do these illegal things anymore. Perhaps more transparency into the banks would help America to be more at ease with their work.
Another concern is the economic inequality where traders earn substantially more money than doctors and cancer researchers. It makes society question our morals that traders, who do not create a tangible product, are more highly rewarded than those that are working to better our population. As a company though, these banks are able to make much larger profits than a hospital or lab is able to make. The financial institutions have been able to grow this big and create the opportunity to have higher salaries for employees and dividends for shareholders. Milton Friedman would approve of the large financial institutions on Wall Street because they are taking a stakeholder approach. The banks are looking to increase profits for their shareholders and in turn, increase their own salaries.
With all of this hate, What Good is Wall Street? Banks have allowed people to borrow money, but it seems that the banks of today are of a different breed. Although they do help to finance operations such as Google and Apple that have created growth and jobs in our economy, they also take part in trading, using other people’s money, whether it be their shareholders or on behalf of a fund. This is where the risky business comes into play, so perhaps Professor Gruver is right that all of the financial firms should be privately held. This would force them to be more careful, spending their own money.
With all of this in mind, the problem that ultimately bothers me is how our society morally ranks these careers. Who should be making the most money? Should it be doctors, engineers, researchers, professional athletes, movie stars, or bankers?
- #OccupyWallStreet (mg312.wordpress.com)
- Occupy Wall Street: In Search of Honest Capitalism (litkicks.com)
- Occupy Wall Street; Not a Novel Idea (anastasiajafari.wordpress.com)