Judging from the near-400 point drop in the Dow Jones (perhaps better renamed the Down-Jones) Average immediately upon the unveiling of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's plan to get us out of our present financial disaster, Wall Street needs to grow up. The Geithner plan is thorough, focused, creative, and substantive. What it is not, however, is a detailed blueprint for step-by-step solutions to major and longstanding problems. Why any knowledgeable person would expect such a blueprint instantly is hard to understand; general designs always precede details. But the lack of those details instantly is being blamed for the latest market drop.
Since the expectation of a full-blown financial rescue plan instantly is totally unrealistic and unreasonable, here is another and more convincing explanation of the stock market's negative reaction: the Geithner plan calls for new controls on the greed and selfishness of financial industry leaders; for new transparency as to what is done with those potentially-trillions of taxpayer dollars; for new limitations on the power of the U.S. monetary elite. It is the prospect of those controls, transparency, and limitations which caused the big Dow Jones drop, as the market's movers and shakers now see the end of their seemingly endlesss gravy train.
Just to make matters worse for the Wall Street pirates, President Obama has proposed limits on executive compensation to maximum levels tolerated in most of Western Europe and the Far East. As Julius Caesar said of his friend Brutus in Shakespeare's play, that would be "the most unkindest cut of all." The very idea of sensible limits on pay is anathema to financial executives who see nothing wrong with spending part of the first $350 billion of TARP bailout money on junkets and jets.
An equally hard pill for the barons of Wall Street to swallow is the fact that they are no longer immune from the rules which the rest of us live by. That was not the case when Hank Paulson was Treasury Secretary, doing his best to give away the store to even the least-competent and greediest of his former cronies. The misuse and abuse of that original $350 billion has to be the biggest theft in the history of thievery, even far bigger than Bernie Madoff's fifty billion dollar ripoff--and even worse, since Madoff was not a public official when he made off with his investors' money.
This is a plea, then, for giving the Geithner plan a fair chance, for patience as the details are worked out, for courage to bite those bullets which need to be bitten, and for dedication to really cracking down on the high-flyers who treat their corporations and financial institutions as private hunting preserves. Stopping those abuses of financial and economic power which led in large part to the present crisis is long overdue. The rulers of Wall Street will just have to get used to the fact that there are new sheriffs in town, and it is high time for them to become responsible corporate citizens. They need to grow up.