Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I Hate the Stock Market

We've always fixated on the stock market as the barometer of what is right or wrong with the nation's economy but personally, I hate the stock market. That's because by making it the financial be-all and end-all, it sends the message that only what happens to the elite among us is important. The business shows and columns and blogs go into great emotional detail about conditions that impact the fluctuations of the market and how that will affect our financial betters. Rarely, do they become so breathless about the rise or fall of wages,or, at least, only if a decrease in wages benefits business.

In fact, what is bad for working people is usually seen as good for the folks who get most of their income from stocks and bonds and dividends. Declining wages = a positive sign in the eyes of the financial media.

I watched the news yesterday and it was all about seemingly endless lists of companies that were shedding workers, often by the thousands. (This is the first time ever that unemployment was up in all 50 states). The comment following a report about a company's downsizing of employees was usually: "the price of ABC Industry shares rose sharply higher today following the announcement of lay-offs).

Ah, you see, Wall Street thinks it's good when they get rid of us so they are rewarded by seeing their share price increase. That means their production costs will go down. Lean and mean, that's the way we like our industries to be. Get the most out of the least for less - that's their motto. Employees? We are just another "component" in the price of doing business.

It is the next day after all the reports about people losing their jobs. At about noon, the market is up almost 150 points. See, what'd I tell you? Good news!

Of course, I realize that the stock market impacts us all somewhere down the line. None of us are immune from the market's ups and downs. But that's the thing. I do know that my welfare is tied to that of the the money men. But do they know it about me? Do they realize that Mr and Mrs Lunchbucket are also Mr and Mrs Consumer? Are they even aware that when we don't have jobs, we don't buy cars or homes or go to sporting events or attend college? And that will eventually affect their bottom line as well. After all, financial movement is felt both up and down the food chain.