Thursday, January 10, 2013

According to Wall Street, Humans are Fodder

As I was watching CNBC just minutes ago, as reporter Mary Thompson ticked off details of American Express' (AXP) 4th quarter earnings report, a chart beside her showed the sock gaining in after hour trading just as she announced that the firm would initiate a restructuring involving 5400 job cuts.

The image of the stock going up while people were about to lose their jobs brought home (once again, because this is not the first time) the tragic nature of Wall Street and their glorified love of profits at any cost, even human cost.

Living through the past four years of abject financial repression, first, by banks, then by government, now, by multi-national corporations, the level of moral bankruptcy by the very people who should be exemplars of good behavior is appalling and completely unacceptable.

When people lose jobs and stocks increase in value, it displays not only a shallow disregard for humanity, but almost a depraved indifference to human suffering. Handing out pink slips at corporations has become a routine carried out by more underlings, those "investor types" never having to face a wife or husband who has lost a job when prospects for finding another are so slim.

Of course, from a purely financial perspective, cutting labor costs is wise, but, in the end, elimination of productive labor is wanton, greedy, selfish and eventually self-defeating.

To the corporations and to government, people (mostly working people) are expendable, fodder, chattel, just random numbers to add or eliminate from spreadsheets, profit and loss statements and earnings reports. Rewarding corporations for shedding employees is so distasteful on the surface that one wonders just what parallel universe it is in which those of the rentier class reside.

For every dollar they make in profits, another human being is degraded, shunned, discarded, and, what the investors fail to realize is that without the fruits of human labor - and their spending - the corporations would have no customers. None. Zero. They would be bankrupt and cease to exist and this is exactly the path we have embarked upon though the insanity of centrally-planned money and interest rate policy, banking without rules, corporations with enormous advantages over all competitors and a world reduced to ones and zeroes in a computational fantasy land.

And what a fantasy world it is. Money is created out of thin air, shoveled directly to 10 or 12 money center banks and put to work hiking up prices of stocks. Yes, Virginia, the rich do get richer and the poor poorer, but it is the middle class, like those 5400 American Express employees who are about to lose their jobs who suffer the worst.

Loss of income, self-esteem and personal worth are immeasurable and difficult to replace. The unemployment statistics cited by the government, and ignored by Wall Street, paint a very bleak picture of America in the 21st century. While we are the most technologically-advanced nation in the history of the world, nearly half the population is either collecting some form of government assistance or is about to.

Our business and political leaders have led us down a primrose path to destruction, one upon which they profit every step of the way, but, if there is any justice in the world left, it is the hope that when all the employees are laid off, when all the factories and store fronts and job sites are empty, idle and wasted, that the market will crash, taking down the entire apparatus of Wall Street, the oligarchs and politicians and bankers with it.

Maybe then, finally, people will understand human beings are not fodder, that labor, as defined by none other than Adam Smith, the great economist upon which all of economics is based, is the basis of all wealth, of all money, of all that can be achieved.

Maybe. But it will take a catastrophe - or maybe a hundred thousand catastrophes - for the knowledge to find a home.

Dow 13,471.22, +80.71(0.60%)
NASDAQ 3,121.76, +15.95(0.51%)
S&P 500 1,472.12, +11.10(0.76%)
NYSE Composite 8,713.75, +77.66(0.90%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,753,614,375
NYSE Volume 4,318,613,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4102-2323
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 458-15
WTI crude oil: 94.00, +0.90
Gold: 1,678.00, +22.50
Silver: 30.92, +0.669

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