In a true democracy the finance industry would be the servant of the Main Street economy, not its master.
That's the message being sent to the American Bankers Association by the labor-led coalition of demonstrators at the association's gathering in Chicago Oct. 25-27.
A year ago, taxpayers bailed out Wall Street's biggest banks. And what have people gotten in return, the demonstrators ask?
According to the call to action from Jobs with Justice for an Oct. 27 demonstration, the big banks are:
- foreclosing on one home every 13 seconds;
- denying credit to small and large businesses, forcing layoffs and causing a 10 percent unemployment rate;
- charging inflated interest rates on loans and credit cards (how does 26 percent sound? outrageous!);
- spending millions on lobbying against reforms and regulations.
And to top all those outrages, they are doling out BILLIONS of dollars to themselves!
Darn right, there has to be some redistribution of wealth. And here are some initial steps to make it "trickle down."
Solving the mess requires financial re-regulation; radical steps to protect consumers; massive creation of productive, necessary green jobs; transforming the minimum wage to a livable wage; and, most important, fixing the staggering imbalance between the bargaining power of workers and the bosses.
Passing and signing into law the Employee Free Choice Act would go a long way to addressing that staggering imbalance.
It was deregulation and its resultant financial gimmickry that plunged the world into economic crisis.
It was financial deregulation that piled mountains of debt on top of workers, leaving them defenseless when the crisis hit.
It was financial deregulation that diverted precious resources away from the real economy and into the pockets of the gamblers at the Wall Street casino.
Financial re-regulation is necessary because Wall Street has proven that it doesn't have a clue.
Then there is the tax code. Get rid of the Reagan-Bush era regressive tax breaks for the super-rich. And how about imposing a tax on financial transactions, like the buying and selling of derivatives or other "financial instruments"? These taxes would be used to invest in alternative energy, education and health care, creating jobs as well.
The cry from the right wing and their corporate sponsors is: with the bad economy we can't afford wage hikes, stronger unions, health care reform, pensions, infrastructure repair, schools, nurses, firefighters, police or well-paid airline pilots. This is nonsense. As far as the workers are concerned, an economic crisis is precisely the best time to step up the fight for all of these things. It's the only way out of this crisis.