An Open Letter To Wall Street

Last year as the protests were just starting, there was an open letter from “Wall Street” making the rounds about the populist movement taking a stand against the banking industry. If you haven’t read it, you should — it was hilariously disgusting (via Reformed Broker). The gist was, go ahead and clamp down on Wall Street, we’ll take your jobs and eat your lunch, you peons.

So, as the job cutting continues on Wall Street with another 1600 people being laid off by Morgan Stanley I thought I’d dig up Main Street’s long overdue rebuttal. Here goes:

We are Main Street. Welcome to unemployment. It’s been our job (if we’re lucky) to take care of all of the stuff you think should just work. Whether it’s your lawn, your kids, your car, your fancy meal, or some undisclosed stain on your Armani suit, it doesn’t matter. We will do pretty much anything you need for twenty bucks, if you ask us nicely. I didn’t hear Wall Street complaining when no on asked questions about how they made their billions. Just like gambling, its not a problem until you lose. I’ve never heard of anyone going to Gamblers Anonymous because they won too much in Vegas. But of course, now the tables are turned. And now that you’re out of work may I suggest to you, today might be a good time to look up your nearest meeting location.

Go ahead and continue to want to do nothing for us peons, take away the entitlements we pay for — but you’re only going to hurt yourselves. Because what’s going to happen when you can’t find jobs on Wall Street anymore? You think you’ll start yet another hedge fund that you can shill to your rich friends and aunts & uncles? At some point don’t you think everyone has grown wise to your games? 

We get up at 5am & work till 10pm or later, and then we go to our second job. We’re the ones your nanny brings little Jonny to with his sprained ankle, while you’re pretending golf is important work. You think trading markets is hard, try taking care of your mom’s diaper and dementia for $150 dollars a day. The irony of course is, they’ll probably leave you more money than you’ll deserve and then you’ll blow it on another beach house filled with $15000 umbrella stands like that Enron guy. You know, all the stuff we’ll still have to clean or fix for you.

We don’t eat at Maestro’s or The Sidecar. We eat at McDonald’s. And have you seen the stock lately? One of the best performers this year. We don’t need an MBA to know what works. We don’t get laid off with golden parachutes, never have. You think our jobs are so easy, try teaching your self-entitled kids about how the world really works. Try hanging out with them for more than an hour a day, let alone eight. And try dealing with parents like you, who don’t actually do anything to contribute except excrete money you take from other people.

We’re staring at woefully underfunded pensions because of all of the great advice you, Wall Street, gave our employers. We eat hand-to-mouth, on plates from Target. You don’t know what tough is. You have no idea. Come down to my corner in your suit and tie. Stand at a grill for an 8 hour shift with your cufflinks and Ferragamos.

For years investment bankers and traders have had us fooled. We were too busy working to notice. Do you really think that you are capable of teaching 3rd graders and doing landscaping? You can take your cushy jobs & partner status and stick it. You think all your pool boy does is take care of your bored wife? You try inhaling chlorine gas all day in 105 degree heat. And this winter when your heat goes out, try burning some of your money to stay warm because our rates just went up. We’ll still be hitting grounders to the high school baseball team for $5k extra a summer, thank you very much. Why? Because no one could stand to be around you for more than 5 minutes while real work is being done.

Welcome to the Jungle, assholes. We’re making $45k a year without upside. Year-end bonus? Yeh, it’s a gift card to Olive Garden and a pat on the back. So go ahead Mr. Banker, have your revenge, right? I dare you to try to take my job. I double dare you to try to do my job for more than a week. I wish the next reality show was bankers as assistants & landscapers, packing boxes at Amazon, or painting and building houses. I want to see you set the clock on your DVD player, let alone put in a new outlet. I want to see you shovel snow, go ahead, do just your block — without whining about your split cuticles and aching back. Then do it again tomorrow. And the next day, and the next… And then figure out what to do when the snow stops.

So, go ahead and preach about how much you do for us, Mr. Job Creator — Mr. 1%. Lecture me about how smart you are. But tell me this, how much further down the ladder do you think we’ll slide before this shit gets real, real nasty? And let me tell you, Mr. Top of the Pyramid, when even the most docile dogs get too hungry, they attack — and you’re the fattest ones in the herd.

You’re dinosaurs. Headed for the trash heap. In 10 years the robots will have replaced most of you too. You don’t add value, you move money. We move everything else. We build things. You? You build spreadsheets. And how many spreadsheets do we need saying the same thing, that the whole system is awash in empty promises? How many traders do we need to keep underperforming the market when these new fangled index funds are the future? So, go ahead — take your severance package and start your gourmet cupcake business, because nothing is more vicious than the truth. We are going to survive because we can take care of ourselves. The question is, can you?

I’m back — I’m not celebrating anyone losing a job — it sucks, but truly this is the time we need to get real about things. The 1% are lucky — like 1% lucky — either through birthright, or connections, help or hard work, or simply just great timing, they are all still lucky. I am lucky. And the working class is more than happy to help and be the best janitors, cooks, flight attendants, and teachers they can be, but it’s time for some respect and dignity to trickle down in this country. It’s time for the 1% to act like a caring older brother instead of a punk bully punching us in the arm every chance they get. That’s what Wall Street and Politicians, and Union Leaders, and all the powers that be among the 1% are missing.

So To Everyone, No Matter Your Lot In Life, Good Night & Good Luck.

11 thoughts on “An Open Letter To Wall Street

  1. Pingback: Friday links: pundit intentions | Abnormal Returns

  2. Wall_Street

    What’s interesting about this letter is that you can just about flip it around and apply the opposite terms: 

    “We are Wall Street. Welcome to Employment. It’s been our job (if we’re well-educated, hard workers, and business-savvy) to take care of all the stuff you think should just work. Whether it’s the economy, world trade, or your welfare, it doesn’t matter. Our tax dollars will do pretty much anything you need, at our expense. I never heard you guys complaining when no one asked questions as to how you made a living off of other people’s money. Just like gambling, it’s not a problem until you lose. I’ve never heard of anyone going to Gambler’s Anonymous because they won too much money in Vegas. But of course, now the tables are turned. And now that you’re out of our tax dollars because the country’s going bankrupt, and you’re out of work, it might be a good time to look up your nearest meeting location.

    “Go ahead and continue to want to do nothing for we who earn your living, take away the entitlements WE pay for (that’s right, 50% of the people in this country who are of taxpaying age do not pay any taxes…and the top 1% of earners pay 50% of the country’s taxes), but you’re only going to hurt yourselves. Because what’s going to happen when our money runs out? You think you’ll start up some welfare fraud for those 5 kids you had illegitimately? At some point don’t you think everyone has grown wise to your games?

    “We get up at 5 am and work till 10 pm or later, and then we go home to our kids who have been taught in school that we’re evil for doing so. We’re the ones who earn the money for your kid Johnny’s broken ankle x-ray while you’re pretending drugs, public defecation, and socialist activism are more important than work. You think trading markets is easy, you try my job for one day–I guarantee you’ll drive my company into the nearest sink-hole. The irony, of course, is that my tax dollars give you money you didn’t earn, and you blow it on an Escalade, drugs, prostitutes, and $500 shoes while your kids are on government lunch at school. 

    “We don’t get a lunch break, or any break for that matter. We don’t eat at McDonald’s because we don’t have time. We bring our lunch to work, which is most often left-over dinner that our wife packed up in the fridge, which won’t be reheated because we only have ten minutes to eat it and the microwave is on the other end of the floor. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t get golden parachute pensions. You think our jobs are so easy, try teaching your self-entitled kids how the world really works. Try hanging out with them for more than an hour a day when you don’t have a union-authorized script to follow. Try dealing with the crap you shove down their throats during the school day, when they think they’re worthy of a trophy for gracing you with their presence, when they think you’re an evil rich bastard and the solution to the world’s problems is learning how humans are a plague on the earth. 

    “Our country is staring at woefully unfunded pensions because of the advice your unions gave to their people, that one pension that costs 19 currently-working people to produce is a sustainable pension plan for all union personnel in the country. You eat hand-to-mouth, on plates from Target, that we bought for you. You don’t know what tough is. You have no idea. Go to Uganda. Go to Haiti. The United States’ poverty level is equal to the middle class level of EUROPE. Stop your pathetic complaining. 

    “For years, union leaders have fooled you. You were too busy working to notice. Do you really think you are capable of handling multi-billion dollar trades and investments? You can take your cushy 9-5 job with 14 30-minute breaks and stick it. You think all we do is sit at a desk chair and twiddle our thumbs? You try my job for a day and see if you can even comprehend the questions you’re unable to answer from clients. Many of us will be taking our businesses and moving to another city, or maybe overseas. Why? Because your union’s demands are more than our company can handle and we’d go out of business if we stayed here. And our government’s taxes are the most unfriendly in the world to business. It’s easier to do business in Saudi Arabia where they don’t even let women drive than it is to do business in America, thanks to your political candidates.

    “You think it’s hard making $45k without a year-end bonus? You get a gift to Olive Garden at the end of the year and you’re complaining? In most countries, to do what you do, you live on a dirt floor and walk four miles to and from work, and your kids get shoes from the local mission. I wish the next reality show was assistants and landscapers as bankers, just as long as it was Monopoly money, because it would teach you real fast just how “easy” our jobs are and the real value of what you actually do every day. I want you to realize what an opportunity you already have here in this country for your skill level, because if you think you’re collecting disability for that aching back in another country (provided it isn’t going bankrupt for the same reasons ours is) then you’ve got another thing coming. 

    “So go ahead and preach about how much you do for us, Occupy Wallstreet–the “99%” (even though most people don’t even support you anymore after all that raping and public defecation). Lecture me about how evil I am. But just tell me, how much more down the ladder do you think you’ll slide before you’ll realize that you need to start climbing up? That the answer isn’t setting the ladder on fire and hoping I’ll fall down too? Why don’t you get your own freakin’ ladder instead of trying to steal mine. This is a country where the principles of capitalism apply, meaning anyone who wants to be successful can be, meaning you can earn all you can. And it’s not evil. It’s called *success*.

    “You who don’t want to be successful will inevitably be replaced by those who do. You who want to topple the successful will be crushed by them. You don’t add value, you take my money. You consume what I earned, and then complain that I don’t give you enough. Nothing is more vicious than the truth. We’re going to survive because we can take care of ourselves. The question is, can you?”

  3. Anonymous

    It’s sad if you really feel this way. We’re all connected. Business owners, employees, teachers, nurses, bankers. My letter was an over the top reply to an outrageous letter, your version is actually worse. Good luck with that.

  4. Wall_Street

    Ah, but you see, my entire point is that neither side can point the “blame” on each other because both sides have equally good arguments.  We *are* all connected to each other, you’re right.  If I had wanted to form an actual argument, I wouldn’t have just used your letter and reversed all the terms.  I would have written my own.  Instead, I chose to use this over-the-top letter (I’m relieved that you agree it’s over-the-top) to show the exact opposite argument can be as easily derived.  

    What do I believe?  That capitalism is the only form of economics that actually works.  That it’s irresponsible of unions to promise their people pensions they knew were unsustainable, especially when most of their employees did not have the education or intellect to understand the ridiculousness of the promise.  That the general population’s anger at the unions’ actions (and the government’s actions, which are built on the same principles of poorly invested money and unsustainable promises) will create a violent social revolution whose roots are currently the OWS movement.  And that the current generation, my generation, Generation Y (as in “why do I have to get a job and work?  I’ve always gotten a participation trophy!”), has caught the short straw on the deal because not only are there no jobs left after this failed system of poor management has begun its collapse, but now we have been raised to believe that we are entitled to a job, and that “enriching” ourselves with school is a good way to get one (when what that really means is that the universities (= corporations) get our money and we end up in massive debt with no actual skill set coming out of school).

    Finally, I believe every human being has a responsibility to attempt success and that no human being should be jealous of another for what he has.

  5. Wall_Street

    And actually, the more I re-read my letter which was crafted after your letter, aside from its scathing tone, the more I agree with it.  Every part of it.  And it was so easy to write, it’s unbelievable.  Just about everything you half-heartedly accused the wealthy of in your over-the-top letter, one is easily able to accuse the welfare recipients of, only with facts.  All the facts I stated in my re-written letter are true and verifiable.

  6. Anonymous

    If you think what we have is pure capitalism…what most of the 99% is upset about is getting nickeled and dimed by banksters, by banksters and their crony politican friends stacking the deck. By banksters who have armies of attorneys and accountants to help them skirt the spirit of any law that gets in their way. And as for gen Y, you’d be well served to read my other post:

    Banks serve a purpose, no question but it’s when they are absolutely wreckless and expect, yes expect, uncle sam to come to the rescue. That’s what people (and history shows banks never learn their lesson), that’s what people have a problem with.

    I’m probably not going to change your mind, and that’s fine — but at least I am (and the people are) speaking up– that’s what democracy is about.

  7. Anonymous

    So are we talking singling out welfare recipients? That’s the scourge of america? Or Unions? What about everyone else? You think the only people upset about things are welfare recipients and union members?? Gimme a break.

    You compare us to europe… do you know how high their taxes are there? You can’t have it both ways, you can’t have great schools and healthcare and then not want to pay for it. No government is not the answer, better government is — I hope we can probably agree on that.

    No one wants class warfare, wake up, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about this flippant “my shit don’t stink” attitude from the powers that be. This is about privatized profits and socialized losses. This is about people in power bending the rules to their will to make billions. 

    Everyone is to blame, no doubt — that’s the sum total of democracy, we all own it. But at some point the scales of justice can tip and do, and right now the rich and the powerful are holding the marionette strings. I don’t have all the answers, that I know. I wish we could get all of the money out of politics. I wish corporations weren’t citizens in the eyes of the courts, but all of this exists. The question is what are we (ALL OF US) going to do about it? That’s the messy part, the conversation about what’s next.

    Clearly what we have here isn’t working, or at least not as well as it could — so, how do we fix it?

    And really — you should read some James Altucher : — especially about college.

    I’m done here. Thanks for commenting.

  8. Wall_Street

    I think high taxes are the *problem*, not the solution.  Europe has terrible healthcare, terrible welfare rates (they’re even worse than *us* on that front) and an even worse “my shit don’t stink” attitude than the people who believe they are entitled to a job.  

    Who is mostly to blame for this?  The citizens who did not realize that you can’t have the government giving you handouts.  That includes bankers, welfare recipients, everyone.  Anyone who believes they are entitled to other people’s things–they are who is to blame.  And how do we fix it?  NOT by supporting a movement like Occupy Wallstreet, which has proven time and again to be violent, out of control, anti-capitalist, and irresponsible.  Instead, it is individualism.

    Personal responsibility will restore America.  When people stop assuming that because of their bad childhood or their rich father or whatever else, that they are entitled to someone else’s money, then we will be in better shape.  When people look at the man in the BMW with admiration instead of hate, then we will be in better shape.  And the first step toward that is to force people to take care of themselves.  No bailouts for banks.  No bailouts for people.  As you said, you can’t have it both ways.  The government needs to get *out* of our lives and stop redistributing our money.

  9. AndyD

    Minor detail: it was the tyco CEO with the 15k umbrella stand, not the Enron CEO. But they are both doing time right now.

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