Looking at the mock US flag displayed by protesters on Wall Street (click thumbnail for BBC graphic), we can see a field of thirty corporate logos in place of the familiar fifty stars. Most of us could come up with a list of fifty “bad” companies, couldn’t we? I can identify most of the thirty: Nike, Coca Cola, AT&T, Wal-Mart, Lilly, GM, Citi, Apple, Google, Fox, Verizon, Warner Brothers, Exxon, Visa, McDonalds, Disney, Pepsi, Ford, NBC, Intel, Master Card, GE, and Microsoft.
In my own humble microcosm of Americana, I don’t find many of the companies I’d personally fancy seeing there. We can all recall consumer protests against Nike, Wal-Mart, Exxon, and McDonalds. But, “do no evil” Google? Apple? These choices leave me baffled. In some political circles there must still be plenty of antipathy for any large US corporation: sized-based discrimination is sometimes still politically correct.
On one score I do sympathize with these protestors’ frustrations. Wall Street screwed the entire country in the events leading up to the global crash of 2008. But it’s never as simple as that, is it? The collapse having been orchestrated with the full oversight and blessing of the SEC, Fed, Moody’s, S&P and most of the Bush Administration, targeting “Wall Street” isn’t precisely accurate. It was the “too big to fail” bankers themselves that provided the mighty engine for a catastrophic recession that went viral across the globe. What the hell were they thinking? Citi certainly deserves its place on the infamy list, but I feel the sterling reputations of Bank of America, Wells Fargo and many others were tarnished by omission.
As I wrote a friend the other day,
In Europe, countries like Greece ruined the banks, but in the US, the banks ruined the country!
In a somewhat personal aside, my best buddy’s dad was a VP in the “old” BofA (think green visor accountant types), and he is probably rolling over in his grave. None of us should be too surprised at the irresponsible greed of the usual Wall Street perps, but what the banks did was criminally insane.
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