What happens when groups of the nation’s wealthiest Wall Streeters get together in a secret society to chime, rip and rhyme about the perceived persecutions of their tirelessly wealthy lifestyle?
You can find out in a recent story published in New York Magazine by a reporter who crashed a Kappa Beta Phi initiation of Wall Street’s notable elites.
A nation’s elite tells much about the direction of a country. Sometimes, it depicts progress and commitment, hard work and determination. But here, in this drag-induced, skit-filled arena, we have 200 of the nation’s top executives from all of the too-big-to-fail institutions, private equity firms and hedge funds preparing to induct 21 “neophytes” to an ingratiated-esque culture.
The New York Magazine article presents a terrific insight into this supposed secret event: “Dixie” and “I Believe” songs turned relevant with new phrases that mocked the financial crisis, while others giggled at the thought of having to be bailed out by the government’s ever-watchful eye. Combined with a few tasteless jokes, we have a party fit for the individuals the author claimed included enough wealth and power that if you had dropped a bomb on the roof, global finance as we know it might have ceased to exist.
I’m always interested in financial goings-on, being an aspiring financial services lawyer may do that to me. Yet I’m even more interested in the mindset of our 1 percent. Since the financial services industry seems to comprise a healthy percentage of that 1 percent, their conduct is indicative of our nation’s character, not to mention our future. I don’t side with Occupy Wall Street. I don’t side with those who ridicule the wealthy and create class divides. What a pathetic excuse to drum up votes. A majority of the wealthy are hardworking and don’t display this type of mockery.
I also don’t side with a handful of people controlling the affairs of our country, yet we allow it to happen. I do, however, side with class, morals and the only thing that we have left — our character. No amount of money can truly change that.
A nation where politicians and elites gleefully side with the “House of Cards”-like activity in our nation’s capital and elsewhere is suspect and troubling. And these same business leaders at this ceremony happily recite and mock the necessity of government handouts and corporate welfare. Peggy Noonan struck a pitch-perfect chord with her recent “Our Decadence Elites” blog piece.
It’s telling that this secret society conduct is a slap in the face to hardworking Americans who, by necessity, take life one day at a time — living paycheck to paycheck, bearing responsibility with little rest and little thanks. Americans faced tough days with slashed 401(k)s and delayed retirement back when the onset of our government’s poor policy decisions were being revealed.
It’s telling of a nation’s future where elites blame government for their problems, and the government blames them for the problems of everyone. That sort of game is fit for cronyism if I’ve ever seen it.
Finally, it’s telling of a nation with elites gawking at its citizenry with supposed unpretentious, jolly good ole times. I agree with Ms. Noonan, it seems like they were not laughing in the moment, but laughing at us.
How interesting our nation’s economic future looks in the hands of these few from a thousand miles away.
Cory Ferraez is a third-year law student from Columbus.