This weekend a great deal of time has been spent remembering 9/11. This is important. We should always commemorate the suffering and sacrifice of that fateful day. But there’s another day we must not forget. October 6, 2009, the day the Stock Market crashed. Now this might not have been as dramatic as a terrorist attack, but the consequences were at least as momentous and damaging.
Yet our memories are not so inspired by the Stock Market crash. Perhaps because it is so much more complicated. On 9/11 the cause of our sorrow was clear, precise. Nineteen men committed a profound act of terror against the United States. Yeah, there are more complicated dynamics, international relations, policy ramifications, but as far as a causal understanding 9/11 is fairly easy to grasp.
The Stock Market crash is not so easy to grasp. How could a trillion dollars disappeared the blink of eye, one day it was there, the next day it was gone. Where did it go? Where was it to begin with? What are hedge funds, securities, speculations and derivatives? Even professional economists really don’t fully understand the consequences of these financial phenomena, how could the layman?
Consequently, as we settled into the morass that is the current economy, we stopped paying attention to the postmodern robber barons. It is, for the most part, business as usual in the finance sector. Deregulation and poor regulation, combined with arcane money making schemes that cannot be fathomed let alone controlled, caused the economic collapse we must now pull ourselves out of. What’s more, these very same factors are still at play. Only now these touchy investment strategies are being financed by the taxpayer.
I have an idea, however. Nothing radical. We pass a law that if investors and speculators want to put money into these capricious investments they must put an equal amount of money into an Economic Superfund. This fund will be a risk free set aside in the event that the stock market collapses again…and it will surely collapse again! This way the corporations that create economic insecurity can bail themselves out without taxpayer help. It will also increase the costs of such investments, discouraging risky behavior, yet would also create an element of security so as not to rule them out entirely.
But corporations don’t like the idea of setting money aside for a rainy day. And why should they? After all, they have all of the security they need. It’s called the American taxpayer.
Watch the New York Times Video: Wall Street Today