Saturday, July 26, 2008

What goes on in Wall Street, stays on Wall Street....

When I was a little girl, my mother used to tell me again and again just exactly how POOR our family was. That's all I heard. "We don't even have enough money to buy even the basics," was my mother's constant mantra. But looking back on my childhood, what she said just doesn't make sense. We owned our own home. We had two cars. My mother vacationed in Europe. And every Saturday she would take me shopping up at the new Stonestown mall near San Francisco and I would sit outside her dressing room and wait patiently while she tried on and then bought yet another expensive suit at Livingston's. Then, afterwards, she would treat me to a hot caramel sundae at Blum's.

Something here just didn't add up.

If we were so poor, then where was our cardboard box home under the freeway? Where was the government cheese?

My parents grew up in the Great Depression and, back then, they really WERE very poor. But after that? After the Great Depression was over and they both had well-paying jobs? They developed a propensity to not talk about how much money they had; to hide their true worth behind closed doors, even from us kids. In our family, talking about money became even more verboten than talking about sex.

I'm beginning to get this deja vu feeling that Wall Street (including their special friend and ally, the Federal Reserve) is acting this way too, keeping the true reality of its wealth carefully hidden from the rest of us. The more I read about the supposed mess on Wall Street right now -- all the bailouts, disappeared profits, etc. -- the more I'm beginning to suspect that we "children" (aka the American people) will never really know what kind of shell games are going on right under our noses. How much money has Wall Street really lost recently? And how much of their new poverty mantra is just a bluff while they are secretly moving bunches of money around behind closed doors -- at our expense?

When the dust finally settles on the tailspin that is America's current economic meltdown, will the bankers and mojo-men on Wall Street be living in cardboard boxes under the freeway like the rest of us? Or will they somehow manage to still be buying suits at Livingston's and taking European vacations?

Somehow I think that the American people are being misled, but that we may never find out how or for how much -- and that what is "going on in Wall Street" will be staying on Wall Street for a long long long time. I think that it will only be after we naive American middle-class "children" have been forced to grow up -- as our homes are foreclosed on, our jobs disappear and our paper money no longer means anything -- that we will discover what the true reality is.

Or, more than likely, we may never find out what "goes on in Wall Street...."