The marketing folks over at JPMorganChase are doing their best to keep the ship afloat by putting in play a catchy and provocative slogan now splashed across the multitudes of Chase banking branches: Save is the New Spend. Against the backdrop of decades of stagnant wages, and having shaken down the population with usurious bank fees and interest rates for credit and mortgages, and gone to the government for a bail out, what else is an honorable banker to do but think up Orwellian phrases?
The solution then to America’s demise: get people saving. It does in the end have to do with people’s habits. Perhaps the habit of 30 per cent annual profits sought and achieved for years by the hedge funds needs to be broken? Talk about an addiction. There are already 100 million Americans taking home $3,000 a month or less for a family of four, a figure The Great Marginalization quotes whenever possible to try to ground the debate a bit. Should we tell those families Save is the New Spend?
President Obama is in league with Chase on the importance of enforcing the savings habit, which is why an increasing number of Americans equate the Democrats with Wall Street. Nowhere in Obama’s patrician pronouncements about jobs is there a word about how much people should be paid, as in living wage. The utterance of dollars and cents is just not done in those circles.
What we do get from the Obama Administration are green job-making scenarios: rebates for homeowners who want green things done to their homes, inducing them to hire local greening companies to carry out energy saving work, in turn causing small businesses to hire more workers, thereby giving business owners tax credits for hiring, subsidizing wages, building communities, getting America back to business, etc. It is, at best, a trickle of low-paying jobs … a pathetic excuse for planning and implementing a 21st Century economy. It may pass for policy in the West Wing, but the disaffection for Obama shown by once sympathetic voters tells the story.
Back to our strung-out hedge fund managers. The rage these days among hedgers: getting a charter school going, sorting the responsible from the irresponsible poor. “If you’re at a hedge fund, this is definitely the hot cause,” wrote the New York Times, citing a charter expert. “Charter schools appeal to the maverick instincts of many who run hedge funds.”
Hedge funds put up the seed money, control the boards of the schools and government provides majority funding. Thousands of kids enter a lottery for relatively few seats. Try your luck and get your kids out of the public schools. Now there’s a future. President Obama is all for it.
Eva Moskowitz, a former New York City Council member, earns $371,000 a year heading up Success Charter Network in Harlem, one of several Harlem charters started by hedge funds. “These guys get it,” Moskowitz explained to the Times. “They aren’t afraid of competition or upsetting the system. They thrive on that.” Really.
Fearless hedge funders saving inner city kids, usurious bankers preaching savings and a nation’s president peddling jobs at any wage. That’s a recipe for demise in the extreme. Coming up from the folks at Chase: There’s Blood in Every Stone.
CARL GINSBURG is a journalist in New York City. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.