On Friday, July 14th during the second quarter analyst call, for the bank JP Morgan Chase, we were all treated to the musings of Chief Executive Officer, Jamie Dimon. While he and his team described the last ninety day’s business, and their plans for the future, Mr. Dimon offered his insight regarding the state of the union, and its government.
A passage of particular interest was that of his contempt, for the rightfully contemptible, bureaucratic, and dysfunctional state of affairs in Washington D.C. Saying forcefully: “It’s almost an embarrassment being an American citizen traveling around the world and listening to the stupid shit we have to deal with in this country.” Also remarking of the goodness for “average citizens” that comes from having the right “practical policies,” and a well functioning free enterprise system.
Mr. Dimon, respectfully, I’m speaking to you as a 36-year old American citizen, who lived, worked, and watched helplessly as colleagues lost their careers during the housing crisis and The Great Recession that followed; as a technology worker, and a student who is attempting to reinvent himself for the third time, I too, am tired of listening to the nonsense coming out of Washington, and even more so, I’m tired of hearing it from you sir.
You and those who lead the great corporations of our planet, are without question, successful men and women, and are deserving of all the trappings that come with your positions. But, let’s face facts. You’re the son of a banker, and the grandson of a stockbroker, attended Tufts, and Harvard University, and have a personal worth north of one billion dollars. You lead a corporation with a market capitalization of $328 billion, and manage $4.5 trillion in assets. On behalf of all of us “average Americans,” stop pretending you know what the country needs to provide for us.
The finance industry — that for all intents and purposes, you and a few others lead, can easily be seen — and is perceived by many, as the root cause of all that ails us today. While we were losing our jobs, and watching our savings and retirement accounts dwindle, your bank too, was riding the immoral gravy train of securitized subprime mortgages, even before Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual found their way into your portfolio.
The wholly unnecessary mortgage debt scheme and housing bubble created within the financial sector, lead directly and absolutely to The Great Recession. And, without question, precipitated the almighty acceleration of automation, and the unearthing of new avenues of efficiency in the workplace, all in service of keeping up profits in this time of corporate short-termism. Leaving hundreds of thousands, if not millions of agricultural, manufacturing, energy, and technology workers with a decade of austerity, with fewer precious years, means, and methods to retool ourselves for the next thing. And, to prepare ourselves for the very real possibility that there may not be a next thing for some of us.
It could be argued, and I argue it here. That now, just as after every other great financial disaster, and ensuing economic crisis in our 241-year history, the social fabric is left in tatters, and the political scene in mayhem. It was the financial crisis that caused the political dysfunction you deride, and allowed us to be turned inside out and against each other. Simply put: The banks broke us.
The constant self-righteous cries for the deregulation of banks by the very people who so clearly, and so recently, have proven they cannot be trusted to self-regulate, continues to astonish. Why don’t you see that? We’re not all yet certain, yours, or any other company can be trusted with our livelihoods. So I, for one — until you can prove to us you’re a force for good in the world — am ok with it being difficult for you to maneuver in the current business climate.
While we all appreciate your frustration with the government, and the running of it — just stop grumbling, and complaining as if it’s on behalf of the average Joe. Use your massive, massive resources, and your learned voice, and do something real about it. Do it in the service of this great nation. Give something back to the citizens of it, who have made it possible for you to gain so much.
Or please, just be quiet.