Friday, January 29, 2010

Should We Leave Wall Street Alone?

Reshma Saujani is running as a Democrat for the House of Representatives seat that represents the Upper East Side of Manhattan. As a former Wall Street analyst, she is, as she says, "running on my Wall Street record, not from it." Her strategy is to invite leaders of the financial industry in New York to create more jobs, not to browbeat them. So far so good.

But she also is quoting as saying this: "If you go to Texas, you'll never hear a Congressional member speak poorly of the oil industry. In Michigan, you'll never hear a Congressional member speak poorly of the auto industry." Here's where I especially want to part company with Ms. Saujani. One of the many reasons we find ourselves in this financial mess is that far too few public servants were willing to hold Big Oil and the former Big Three automobile companies to account. They were allowed to run rampant and the result was bad for everyone. Rather than follow the example of Texas and Michigan, I would urge Ms. Saujani to follow the example of New York: Don't hesitate to tell it like it is even if that means criticizing some big companies that employ a lot of people. This is a democracy. Remember? Criticism and accountability are important principles that we need to uphold much more assiduously. That's what we expect of our public servants. People in power are self-interested. They rarely do the right thing without oversight and constructive criticism. Of course, it is ridiculous to attack an entire industry. And of course they should be encouraged to hire more workers and to have some incentives to do so. But please do keep the heat on these powers that be. That's a critical part of the job in a democracy that is supposed to be advancing the interests of the many, not just the often supersized financial ambitions of the wealthy few.

1 comment:

  1. You are right. The Representatives of Texas and Michigan don't badmouth Big Oil and The Auto Industry because their mouths are full of, well, you get the idea, and their pockets are full of their money. Anyone who pledges to give the 'big interests' in their District a pass is representing the interests and not the People.