Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Great Kate Jennings

Expressing rage at AIG executive compensation is like arriving at the final moments of a riot, grabbing the cuff of a young looter who has managed to swipe the last item on the last shelf in the last gutted department store, throttling said looter and then blaming him for the entire riot.

I don't understand why people are criticizing Obama for not initiating a pro-wrestling style raging rant about AIG. We live in a nation where outsized executive compensation has been the norm for the past twenty-five years. In 1982 CEO compensation was 42 times the comp of their related lowest compensated workers. That ratio has increased over tenfold since then. All the while, our nation's wealth continues to be centralized and polarized. And all the while democracy dies a little.

I know...blah, blah, blah, Slimbo. Bring back the baseball cards, already!

Well, I could go on and on but I'll stop here and share something worthwhile. Over the years, I've kept a manila folder that's now fat with articles and clippings that have caught my eye. In 2002, I swiped this article from the New York times by Kate Jennings.

Like me, Jennings is a Wall Street exile. Unlike me, she now has a successful career as a writer. In this article, titled "The Hypocrisy of Wall Street Culture", she beautifully demonstrates how Wall Street firms, long revered as the bastions of pure capitalism, actually function on a day-to-day basis within an autocratic, Stalistic paradigm.

This article came out in 2002. Keep in mind that this was when we were all reeling from 9/11. With our economy in the doldrums, we were all to be good little cogs in the 'ownership society'. We were all out to keep the economy afloat by shopping till we dropped. And most of all, we were to let Wall Street do it's thing, baby. Remember? Jennings was a nice dose of reality during those days.


  1. Agreed. Who really owns things in the ownership society?

  2. I like what Muhammed Ali said at the end of "King of the World". We don't actually own anything...we're just travellers.