A friend who knows my interest in how the ghastly state of the economy is turning Wall Street socialist forwarded me a commentary from William H. Gross, managing director of PIMCO, a global investment management firm. Gross complains that "almost all remedies proposed by global authorities to date have approached the problem from the standpoint of favoring capital as opposed to labor." (That's his boldfaced type, not mine.) "Even conservatives," Gross writes, "must acknowledge that return on capital investment, and the liquid stocks and bonds that mimic it, are ultimately dependent on returns to labor in the form of jobs and real wage gains. If Main Street is unemployed and undercompensated, capital can only travel so far down Prosperity Road." (His underlining, not mine.)
Gross is just getting warmed up:
"Long-term profits cannot ultimately grow unless they are partnered with near equal benefits for labor. Washington, London, Berlin and yes, even Beijing must accept this commonsensical reality alongside several other structural initiatives that seek to rebalance the global economy. The United States in particular requires an enhanced safety net of benefits for the unemployed unless and until it can produce enough jobs to return to our prior economic model which suggested opportunity for all who were willing to grab for the brass ring – a ring that is now tarnished if not unavailable for the grasping."
We are, of course, headed in precisely the opposite direction, with Republicans in Congress--purportedly in thrall to capitalists like Gross, but in fact in thrall only to an absolutist, borderline-psychopathic ideology--pushing to dismantle as much of the federal government as they can get their hands on.
"There are no double-digit investment returns anywhere in sight for owners of financial assets. A modern day, Budweiser-drinking Karl Marx might have put it this way: 'Laborers of the world, unite – you have only your six-packs to lose.' He might also have added, 'Investors/policymakers of the world wake up – you’re killing the proletariat goose that lays your golden eggs.'"
To review: Wall Street is saying that working people need to be paid better and the unemployed need a stronger safety net, and until these things happen investors aren't going to get rich. When the only people in mainstream discourse who care about the working class are Wall Street investors, it really is time to ask where our politics went wrong.