The Divine Comedy: “The Complete Banker” (Band Goes the Knighthood, 2010)
WARNING: Politics ahead.
This song was written during the financial collapse, but I’ve had a hard time keeping it out of my head the last week. If you need me to spell out why, we’re probably on opposite ends of the political spectrum (or you’re not American and your news this week hasn’t been dominated by a certain political convention).
Anyway, in an era with a relative dearth of protest songs, this witty and vicious take-down of Wall Street culture is valuable and delicious. Let’s not mince words here: our modern economy, dominated by the financial sector, is engineered to make a small number of people very wealthy at the expense of virtually everyone else.
Industrialists of the past may well have been terrible people. They may well have felt genuine contempt for their workers. But they ran businesses that employed people, and as their wealth grew, they brought people along with them. that those people were far behind them is beside the point. The economy of making stuff benefited almost everyone.
The economy of extracting every last penny from a given entity and saddling it with debt you’re not responsible for benefits almost no one, and often directly harms people by killing their jobs. Making money from money is the new big business, and I’m sad to live in a world where this is the case.
The man at the center of the action this week, Mitt Romney, could be the guy in this song. He made his fortune in that second economy. And now he’s running for president. I think it’s imperative that we not enshrine money culture in the White House. I don’t want to live in a world that heaps more rewards and power onto people who’ve made a life out of rewarding themselves.