Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Powerful Disconnect

Trey Smith

It wasn't that long ago that the US stock market looked like it was headed toward a free fall. News commentators, pundits and hired "experts" told us over and over again that America's fortunes are tied to the health of Wall St. If the Dow Jones Industrial Average tanked, the entire nation (and world) would be in a mess of trouble.

Over the past week, the Dow Jones has been flirting with the 13,000 mark, but this high hasn't seemed to impact most of Main St. America. The vast majority of us are still struggling to get by, while the titans of capital are lining their pockets with gold, frankincense and myrrh!

Why is it that, when the Dow Jones goes down it threatens the financial security of almost everyone, but when it goes up, it doesn't raise but a few boats?

I will honestly admit that I know little of the intricacies of what goes on at the stock exchange. I barely earned a D in my one college course on economics! But what I lack in technical know-how does not in any way dampen my ability to reason with commonsense and commonsense tells me there is a powerful disconnect between Wall St. and Main St.

As Professor James Petras writes in an excellent article posted at Global Research, "The activity of Wall Street has no social utility, its practitioners enrich themselves with no redeeming activity." With a few limited exceptions, Wall St. doesn't create jobs. It doesn't build anything. It doesn't make anything and the only services it provides are those that predominantly service itself.

Aah, but we are told that Wall St. provides the needed capital to do all these things and more!


Despite the cooked government statistics that show the unemployment rate is falling, do a quick web search for the term "layoffs" and you'll find that layoffs are increasing around the country. At the time I am typing this, I performed such a search and found numerous such announcements. Procter & Gamble announces the layoff of nearly 6,000. The US Postal Service announces anticipated layoffs of 35,000 workers. School districts, colleges and all level of city, county and state governments are announcing layoffs of various sizes.

If the Dow Jones supposedly provides the capital for jobs and it is surging upwards, why do we continue to shed jobs?

Another "fact" we've been told for years is that Wall St. provides the capital for construction -- the building of things. So, with the Dow Jones hovering around 13,000, have we started a building boom?

In a word, no. Housing starts are way, way down. It's not too difficult to understand why. There is a huge glut of foreclosed homes -- a significant number of these were foreclosed on illegally -- and the overall housing market is greatly depressed. Add to this the woeful state of most city, county and state governments and this means that cash-strapped governments aren't building much either.

Finally, we are told again and again that Wall St. provides the capital for manufacturing -- the making of things. But manufacturing is dying in the US. It seems that every month we hear of a plant or factory being shipped overseas somewhere. The few manufacturers who remain wring concession after concession from their workers and local governments entities just to stay put.

So, here's my question: If Wall St. really doesn't create jobs, construction or manufacturing, what exactly is it that they create and who are they creating whatever it is for?

Do we -- the vast majority of us -- really need Wall St. at all?

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