In the 80s, Americans mostly lost their pension plans, as corporations used them for leveraged buy-outs and stock buy backs.
Instead, workers were told that they could get rich by participating in the stock market with 401Ks. Workers were sent to financial advisory meetings in which cheerleaders spun visions of million dollar payouts at retirement.
I remember the very first one I attended. The salesman showed us a chart of our contributions, and then added them up at 8% yearly interest, compounded daily, and then announced that we were all going to be rich when we were 65.
I raised my hand and asked him how he could guarantee a 8% interest rate for the next 40 years, and his demeanor changed instantly, as he leveled a hostile glare at me.
“Let me guess”, he said, “accounting department?”
Ha! That was a clue he no doubt didn’t mean to give.
Anyway, a large percentage of US workers now own a few shares in mutual funds, and they firmly believe that they are going to cash in big some day. They are no doubt watching trillions of dollars vanish today and feeling anxiety about their small part of that.
Here’s the thing. The trillions that are vanishing are mostly imaginary, funneled by the Fed into the market over the last 8 years, but especially since last fall.
You needn’t feel bad about the wealthy losing trillions, because they were fronted that money, like when a casino fronts big gamblers with chips.
It is the working class who put real dollars into the market, taking it out of their paychecks, which they had spent real labor time earning.
So your loss of 10 years worth of contributions? Yep, that’s real. The trillion dollars that Jamie Dimon might lose? Fake. So it doesn’t matter if the 1% loses $1 trillion or $20 trillion. They didn’t work for it anyway.
The only thing that is actually real is the ability of humans to provide food, water, shelter, utilities and amusing trinkets for each other. That part can continue, but we have to chase the moneylenders from their high seats (as FDR put it).
We don’t need the profit takers around, to make a decent society for the rest of us. They can safely be put into prison, while we get about the task of providing for the needs of all citizens in our society.