A former Wall Street worker speaks-out

Couldn’t help but re-post this great comment by a former Wall Street insider on a recent interview with Naomi Klein by OnPoint Radio. Sometimes, only an honest insider can say it best.

I was a senior, high profile stock/company analyst in a major global (and still extant) Wall Street firm and witnessed firsthand the greed-driven, destructive policies pursued by the executive management teams of the many companies I followed for institutional clients during my career. The cynicism of these ‘managers’ with their huge self-dealing stock options grants (some offered at a discount to the company’s stock price only days before the business announced positive “news”) can’t be overstated. They orchestrated massive layoff schemes in which tens of millions of their colleagues lost their livelihoods, benefits & pensions to global offshoring centers while they simultaneously presided over insider-stuffed corporate boards that rewarded them with ridiculous and ever-escalating salary, benefits and options packages, private planes, ultra exclusive golf and country club memberships, private staffs, 8-figure office decorating budgets and many other excesses, all under the chimera of “adding value”. I voluntarily left my position because these practices were repugnant to the Midwestern, middle class values of hard work, fairness and community I’d been raised to believe mattered. The few journalists, politicians, intellectuals and others who openly questioned these policies were branded as ‘losers’, ’socialists’ and ‘radicals’ who were presumed to lack the intelligence, Ivy League education and/or connections to become highly paid corporate managers, consultants, investment bankers, hedge fund managers themselves, rather than the white, pink and blue-collar schmucks who worked for shrinkng pay, benefits and job security – that is if they were fortunate enough to have a job.

If anyone believes this era is over, ask yourselves who received the massive no-strings-attached, taxpayer (and Chinese) funded bailout packages (Wall Street & other finacial elites) and who didn’t (most taxpayers & the economically dispossessed). Yup – the same small, elite group who made billions of dollars in bonuses before they engineered the near- catastrophic collapse of our economic and financial system, are once again making record bonuses when our true national unemployment rate (e.g., the short- and long-term unemployment rate plus those who’ve given up looking for work) is nearly 20%. And in January 2010, the US Supreme Court overruled two important precedents by banning the government from limiting corporate spending on political campaigns as if the business lobby doesn’t already have enough influence on our political process. Where is the outrage? Unfortunately, many Americans are either too busy working (many have 2 or 3 jobs and dependent children and/or parents), too afraid or both, to protest a system some barely comprehend. And the nation’s traditional watchdog – the media – is either too hallowed out and/or owned by huge, rich global conglomerates which are too invested in the system to investigate the architects of the problems, or even register discontent. Even the much-lauded ‘Tea Party’ movement is largely populated by older, right wing, economically and financially privileged white men and wealthy PACs who want US tax dollars to be spent on programs that enrich their personal and business priorities rather than the needs of the majority of U.S. citizens. However, the Pied Pipers of this elitist system are mostly Baby Boomers – the infamous “Me Generation” – so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised.

Ms. Klein was spot on ten years ago with “No Logo” and her thesis on “disaster capitalism” is just as prescient. It’s truly disturbing to realize that after the shattering natural, economic and military developments of the last decade, crony capitalism is still alive and thriving. But there are small cracks, and I hope readers of this book realize that we have the power to influencee and change this corrupt and corrosive system in a democratically-elected government despite its flaws. When a former Wall Streeter feels like a radical for having progressive views, the system well and truly needs reform.

The interview incidentally is also well worth listening to for an insight into “Brand Obama” and how branding has evolved since Klein wrote No Logo. Someone actually tried to copyright the logo of her book after it came-out and then sue her for using it!

That’s just twisted.

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10 thoughts on “A former Wall Street worker speaks-out

  1. Naomi Klein has had her finger on the pulse of a number of activist movements for a long time and has an uncanny ability to reduce complex ideas into short sharp, very memorable slogans.

    I interviewed her 10 years ago [for a book review and this piece: http://www.bretthetherington.net/default.aspx?pageId=117%5D just when her first book (No Logo) was coming out. I was really impressed by articulate statements and her enthusiasm to show-up the brand game.

    We have to keep up the effort (along with well-known international names like Klein) to publicise the criminal theft and immoral acts of those responsible for the recent Great Recession that has caused massive human suffering.

  2. Brett, completely agree but the link wouldn’t work! Could you check it and post it again please as I’m definitely interested to hear about your encounter with her.

  3. My site can be slow to load as well as sometimes not loading at all. The relevant part of my article at http://www.bretthetherington.net/default.aspx?pageId=117 (try again?) said:

    “No logic and No Logo…”

    The word “globalization” has come to mean much more than trade between countries, but this is the main concern of governments. It explains why they act in the interests of the biggest, profiteering companies.

    In an exclusive interview Naomi Klein, the author of No Logo, told me that she is alarmed because she thinks “we no longer have a clear sense of ourselves as public citizens [but rather] only as shoppers, and anyone who raises these concerns is labelled anti-democratic.”

  4. Thanks. I think it was just your site being a bit dodgy as I got a database error page last time. Is there anymore of the interview online because the bit you’ve provided looks like an excerpt?

    I agree that Klein is very articulate when it comes to analyzing issues relating to globalization and advertising. I remember No Logo had a big impact on me when I read it 10 years ago as it summed-up the world we are heading towards as well as the nature of the advertising related industry that I was sometimes working in at the time.

    Globalisation as currently defined is nothing but the corporate globalisation of profit and power at the expense of workers rights and indeed, human life. What’s needed however is a type of globalisation that puts workers and people ahead of corporate profits.

  5. Nick, I’m glad the link worked this time. (Cheapo server.) Thanks for your interest but unfortunately the book review that I did on No Logo with numerous other quotes from her was the only article of many that I wrote for Kansai Scene in Japan that got somehow lost and was before the made online archives. A pity.

    The kind of globalisation you are suggesting is the ideal kind but I’m starting to wonder if it is achievable. Whether it is now all too late…

    Candide, your idea of a Consumer’s Party is a very good one except I see myself as much more than just a consumer. Yes, ourselves as consumers are being completely fucked over but the solution to getting treated like solely economic beings is to break out of that mould.

    Click here: http://www.bretthetherington.net/Modules/Blog/Pages/BlogEntry.aspx?BlogEntryId=556 for a link to the text of an inspiring speech on the theme.

  6. @Brett, There are loads of decent cheap servers out there. I recommend Bluehost: http://www.bluehost.com/

    Other types of globalisation have already been achieved. Look at the International Workingmen’s Association for example.

    http://www.iwa-ait.org/

    It’s a global organization that seeks to support rather destroy workers rights except it doesn’t fall under the label of globalization as defined by the high priests of information i.e. the mass media. It’s a positive form of globalisation In fact, its original incarnation – The First International – was established in 1864 long before globalisation was even a twinkle in a CEO’s eye.

    Nice quote by Eugene Debs by the way. He’s completely right – as more people wake-up to the damage corporate globalisation is doing, the more people will have to realise the only way to stop it is to come together. What’s happening in South America at the moment is a good example of what’s possible. If they can do it in the impoverished backwaters of Venezuela, then people can certainly do it in the relatively rich surrounds of the West.

    @Candide, I’d agree with Brett on the Consumer’s Association idea although there’s definitely a place for such an organization in the world I’d say. National consumer watchdogs already exist – why not link them together and globalise them?

  7. Guys, I think we should go further than just associations.

    Let’s takle the issue heads on and recognise that we live in a consumer society. Let’s be happy consumers!

    As a consumer I want safe and healthy products that work for a reasonable price. I also want them to be produced in an environmentally friendly way, because I also consume the environment, which therefore I also want to remain safe and healthy.

    Thirdly, I want the production to render reasonable wages to the workers. Because I am a worker too.

    We all are consumers and we all want these things. Our party would be pretty big, don’t you think?

  8. @Candide, As I say, I have no problem with strengthening or globalizing consumer watchdogs although that should be the least of people’s concerns in the larger battle.

    It’s the culture of consumption that enslaves so many people. Finding a way to fight against tyrannical power systems that threaten life as we know it on Earth – and encourage an consumption at the cost of everything else – should be the main aim of most concerned citizens.

  9. Yes, so we create a party, vote it into government and change the rules.

    I mean, political fights are fought through elections, too.

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