F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby, his signature novel about the Roaring Twenties, wrote, “They were careless people. They smashed up things and creatures. Then they retreated back into their money, or their great carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together. They retreated and let other people clean up the messes they had made.” Does that resonate with what’s happening today as another Gilded Age crashes and burns? Taxpayers are being called upon to clean up the messes of Wall Street. It’s curious when banks and corporations are making money hand over fist, they get to keep everything. However when their exotic financial instruments such as credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations drown in red ink, then the public bails them out. Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz says the rescue plan “amounts to robbery of the American people.”
Richard Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and currently a visiting professor at the New School in New York. The New York Times calls him “America’s most prominent Marxist economist.” He is the author of numerous books including Democracy at Work, Capitalism’s Crisis Deepens and Occupy the Economy with David Barsamian.