Monday, April 20, 2009

New York Magazine article

Gabriel Sherman of New York Mag presents an interesting perspective on Wall St, the elite and the financial crisis.


  1. This is a very interesting subject how do you put a ceiling on what a person makes in America, but how do you feel sorry for someone that makes 300 million a year?

    I just wanted to comment on a few quotes that I thought were interesting throughout the reading....

    This was a quote from Citigroup executive to a colleague,

    “No offense to Middle America, but if someone went to Columbia or Wharton, [even if] their company is a fumbling, mismanaged bank, why should they all of a sudden be paid the same as the guy down the block who delivers restaurant supplies for Sysco out of a huge, shiny truck?

    First off he does have a point. If I worked hard through either of those schools to get decent grades and exhausted a lot of my time and money towards my education, then worked hard to get a job with a respectable firm in NY, I would expect the "system" to repay me accordingly. That is the beauty of capitalism and America.

    However, what about the kids who do not work hard to get into Columbia or Wharton. The ones who have never worked a day in their lives, financial issues are non-existent, their "legacy" got them into the respectable schools, and because they are easily distracted with their studies their parents buy them a one person studio flat near campus. Now compare that to the kid who had to start working at Sysco at a young age because college was financially not an option and in one day this kid works harder than the college boy at Columbia does in a year.

    Look at it like this and the guy who is quoted above looks like a prick. Also, to say that the guys on Wall St. would ever have such a reduction in pay that they will be paid the same as the Sysco guy is an exaggeration to the fullest. Even if their pays were cut in half, it probably wouldn't amount to the salary of the Sysco guy.

    The next quote I found appealing was this one in regards to the taxes of the rich being reallocated to the poor,

    "If I have to adopt twenty poor families, I want a thank-you note and an update on their lives".

    Lots of times the incentive to work for some people is derailed by the fact that they can simply file for disability or unemployment. People in America take advantage of this system all the time, and it is the men and women on Wall St. that have to pay for it. This is where, I believe, our welfare system fails the most, people receive a check in the mail for sitting on their behinds because they are obese and I think that taxpayers have every right to be angry with this.

    This was a quote from a person on Wall St. expressing his indignation towards the negative attitudes of Wall St.,

    "Honestly, you can pick on Wall Street all you want, I don’t think it’s fair. It’s fair to say you ran your companies into the ground, your risk management is flawed—that is perfectly legitimate. You can lay criticism on GM or others. But I don’t think it’s fair to say Wall Street is paid too much.”

    I think that it is interesting that "fairness" is coming into play so much on Wall St. Going back to the kid who had to work at Sysco to make ends met because he/she couldn't afford college. Is it fair that the opportunity costs of going to college are much higher for the Sysco kid, therefore college is unattainable, than they are for the kid that was born into wealth? Is it fair that unless the Sysco kid hits the lottery this pattern will continue for family generations so that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer?
    Fairness should not be a concept that is discussed much on Wall St. in my opinion, wether something is right or wrong is a different story. It can be "wrong" for the Wall St. crowd to be taxed to death, but to hear a rich may say, "it's not fair" just seems like an oxymoron.

    To close this long post I would like to say I think that I think it is wrong to say that every person on Wall St. is greedy and malice. The man that resigned from AIG and sent his bonus to charity proves that they are not. I don't think I agree with putting a limit on what one can make, but at the same time how much larger is our gap between lower and upper class going to get? At what point is making a certain amount of money each year just unnecessary and at what point should society step in or have the right to step in? It will be interesting to see how this all pans out.

    -Kaitlin Beck

  2. Other than being completely shocked and irritated by this article, here is my normative comment on it. Wage rigidity came to mind when reading this article. the reason that these people are getting mad is the same reason anyone would get mad if their company decided to give you a 50% cut in your paycheck, even if you didn't do half the work that year! people get mad when you try to lower their wages because it makes them feel like they are valued less. getting upset for this reason is understandable. justifying the right to bonuses larger than the average American's anual income (and knowing that it's the American people that paid for this bonus) is stretching it.

    it's unfortunate for those working on wall street that they are there in a time that there is such economic hardship and a collapse of the financial systems. it is also unfortunate that American's lose their jobs every year to companies moving overseas for cheap labor. it's unfortunate that most opticians jobs will be obsolete in another 10 years. but this is how life works and how capitalism works. some things fall, but bigger and better things are supposed to replace it. in the mean time, the average American is not going to be handing out tissues for banker's sob stories.

    -Mandy Isaac

  3. "Lots of times the incentive to work for some people is derailed by the fact that they can simply file for disability or unemployment."

    I recently discovered that I would make more money if I left my job and filed for unemployment. Very tempting...

    Just kidding, I'd never do that because I think adult people are supposed to work if they are capable. But, I can see how someone with a different mentality might quit their job (or rather, make their employer lay them off-if you quit you aren't eligible).