Everyone knows Wall Street is just a racket, soaking up large portions of the surplus and stuffing the pockets of wealthy bankers. That’s especially true since the spectacular crash of 2007-08, when millions lost their jobs and homes.
But many people also harbor the illusion, based on the relentless campaign from mainstream economists and financial journalists, that perhaps Wall Street bankers, even if they’re not doing God’s work, are at least doing something—anything—that is useful for the wider society. Why else would they have been bailed out with taxpayer money and, then as now, be paid such a fortune?
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up