Shocked by the Shock of it All

When Will Reality Attack Wall Street?

The media screamed alarmingly this week as Wall Street dipped a toe in the abyss. Only an ADD riddled media would exhibit such a fixation with this indicator: UP/DOWN -THIS BAD WHEN DOWN (AND FIRE BAD TOO). The Dow is always the barometer for our weather even though Main Street has known for a couple of years that the storm has not abated. We witnessed those inconceivable days with soaring markets uncoupled from the restraints of reality, all reported to the masses with obvious relief, as if the reporters were movers and shakers, and not just trained pets.

We’ve seen constant layoffs with no attention paid to one fundamental question: What are these unemployed people to do now? There are no jobs of value being created for them. Our media has diligently reported the layoff numbers, sometimes even helping Wall Street when the bottom line of companies look to be improving through the cutting of “fat”. It’s as if those unemployed individuals are worth mentioning in their aggregate numbers, but the actual humans are thought to evaporate like so many electrons that brought the newscast yesterday.

Could it be that reality is finding its way to Wall Street? It’s possible, at least until they can figure out another trick to pull for the next round of pump and dump. But sooner or later, the ploys will fail and it will be all dump.

At this point, the fundamentals of reality are but a novelty to these people. And in fairness, they really haven’t had to operate under the same sets of rules that the rest of us do. On Main Street all it takes is one medical trauma to lead one to financial ruin. Change jars sit on counters to help with chemotherapy costs for local kids (probably dosed by something industrial titans made a killing off of). And sometimes the jars get taken down, but usually when the change is counted out to help with the funeral expenses. Not one person on Wall Street lives in that world.

We are told to care about Wall Street because it affects our pensions, right? I hear that one sometimes from Boomers who still have them, and a few fellow Gen X’ers in certain professions. If you have a pension, it’s probably being sliced, diced and consumed with a nice $350 bottle of wine at this very moment. Your pension crumbs stick to Paul Ryan’s fleshy lips as he plots with the usual suspects. This is where your pension doom springs from. The Dow could hit 20,000 (whatever the hell that means) and they would find a way to punish you out of it.

If only the UP/DOWN INDICATOR on the screen could give a running tally of those being screwed over to prop up business as usual; that is, the continued funneling of remaining resources to the gov/corp welfare for its wealthy program. “Sweet potato dumplin’….. did you see the Screwed Over index today? It’s up to 302 million people right now. Holy guacamole!” (this is how everyone talks away from the corridors of power, we’re all so colorful in our gingham and rocking chairs).

They say that the debt debacle may be a cause for some of this turmoil. After all, we inhabit a world where confidence and submission to the decree of authority is essentially the economy. I don’t think you could have scripted a more confidence-eroding spectacle than what we witnessed last week. We didn’t even get a satisfactory dénouement with a John Boehner crying fit. And all Obama wants is a good hamburger, goddamit.

We saw wrangling over cutting the subsistence level funds to the elderly and infirm discussed as pure inevitability, but there was no harsh talk about  diminishing the true cause of our bankruptcy — that of the Empire prolonging wars. That reality was barely tickled during the debt talks. If we were a cheesy Western, I know what color our hat would be.

The fact that reality can’t be put on hold indefinitely is a new concept for our men and women of power. They aren’t used to constraints of any kind. Imagine the corruption that would emerge if you were never called on for mistakes. I don’t think they accept lessons from cause and effect they personally experience either. I’m sure David Koch didn’t think twice during his cancer treatments as he lorded over a cancer causing juggernaut of industry.

Strange superstitions abound during upheavals, and sadly harsh circumstances can bring even more whimsy and denial of reality. I’ve heard from many individuals, usually in the workplace, that all of this turmoil will be sorted out by a higher power, and they then go on autopilot. I’m not trying to erode religious beliefs, but I have to say that as I see it, if a higher power is looking down on all of this, it is certainly because we are the “control” in an experiment. The helpful mitigation is going on with the other planet! We are subject to cause and effect, and we should have the grace and dignity to plunge forward chasing real solutions with no reliance on others of any stripe to save us (worldy or otherworldly!).

We are certainly in a fading, pathetic comedy, the kind that comes from the end of an Empire. And on that note, I think this is fitting:
All enterprises that are entered into with indiscreet zeal may be pursued with great vigor at first, but are sure to collapse in the end (from Tacitus, a guy who witnessed a case study of something similar).

This is looking suspiciously like the logical end to indiscreet zeal.
I hope that the “eroding confidence” of the markets bleeds over into a wholesale questioning of all the underpinnings that bind us to their false reality — the one that only benefits a few. Times of unraveling are wildly dangerous, but the rapid changes make outliers become possible players in the new set-up.

Let us grab what is coming with discreet zeal and a full appreciation of the most basic of truths, that of plain and simple reality.

Kathleen Wallace Peine welcomes reader response. She can be reached at: Read other articles by Kathleen.