Friday, March 13, 2009

Work is Wealth

Wow, Stewart's dismantling of Cramer and CNBC was staggering. His essential argument:
  • The stock market was pushed on the general public who were told it was a safe place to put their money AND they would receive huge returns.
  • CEOs, Bankers, Stock-Brokers, Hedge Fund Managers, Financial Experts, and Financial News Journalists were all aware that investing was far more complex and far riskier than what they were telling the general public.
  • These institutions, focusing on short term profits at the expense of long term growth and stability, were complicit in manipulating the public and creating the circumstances that led to the recent collapse.
  • The absence of real journalistic practices in the Financial News industry results in reporting that is essentially an infomercial for a legal con (i.e., the selling of snake oil as vitamins). Financial reporting is worse than useless, it's actually dangerous.
The best defense that Cramer could offer was that he could provide insight into the double-dealings. Sort of like when the FBI hires a con man to help them identify the modus operandi of other con men. Brilliant.

There was also a more subtle point that Stewart made which was that wealth resides in labor, and not in the plutocrats, the bankers, or the CEOs. On the one hand you cold say it was a slippery slope in the direction of rallying the workers to unite and overthrow the slavery imposed by the bourgeoisie. But really the point was that wealth is created when workers produces goods and services that create value. Not from playing games with money and skimming a percentage off the top. Life is not a casino where the house always wins. Life is work. Life is building and creating things that are worthwhile and that stand the test of time.

What Stewart pointed out is that our notions of success as voiced by the financial wizards - who monopolized the very notion of success by conflating all human endeavours with commerce - have in their glibness and cynicism destroyed much and created very little.