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Down With NASDAQ

by The Cranky Media Guy

I must be getting old. I remember when I was actually a part of the national economy. They say the first thing to go as you age is memory. It must be true, 'cause I can't quite put my finger on exactly when I stopped being part of the economy. Do they make some kind of Viagra pill to restore your economic virility?

Unless my brain has already turned to that stuff they make Gummi Bears out of, I seem to be able to recall a time when economic reporting actually included things other than what happened on Wall Street that day, stuff like whether the cost of living had gone up or down lately and how much inflation was affecting the average person's real income. I guess they hadn't figured out yet that the only people who really matter are Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, Ted Turner and the rest of those Trilateralists, Masons or whatever New World Order frat house those guys belong to. By the way, am I the only one who sometimes feels like those boys really are a big bunch of frat brothers and I'm the new pledge with a paddle poised to smack me on my white boy ass? I am? Okay, never mind then. It was only a metaphor.

Anyway, my point is, when I see what passes for financial reporting nowadays, it doesn't seem to have much to do with my life. I hear plenty about the Dow Jones to be sure, but I don't own any of those stocks. I don't own any stock. (If I had any money, which I don't, and I was going to buy some stock, I'd stick my money in the World Wrestling Federation. I like the idea of watching Stone Cold Steve Austin put a chair over a guy's head on TV and be able to say proudly, "I own that chair!" You now have all the information you need to judge my financial expertise.) Ah, but I digress.

Even if you have now concluded that I am a total dork and know absolutely nothing about the economy, I do work and I do pay taxes and I do buy stuff (yes, a lot of it is wrestling-related paraphernalia, but so what?). That's all part of the economy, isn't it? I've got news for you, too. I'm not alone. Most American adults do not own any significant amount of stock, but they do work, they do pay taxes and they do buy stuff. So, how come we don't get financial information that relates to our lives?

My guess? It's because, increasingly, the people who report on the economy are making great, steaming bucketfuls of money and simply don't relate to how we groundlings live. They might think they do, but they don't. Case in point: a while back, Tom Brokaw was filling in on the Today show and apparently he found the early hours difficult to adjust to. On the air he said that, on the way to the studio every morning, he saw a homeless guy lying on the sidewalk (from the comfort of his NBC-supplied limo, I'm guessing.) Brokaw said that he really envied the guy the ability to sleep in as late as he wanted, rather than having to be at work at 5:30 AM. You betcha, Tom! Who wouldn't prefer "sleeping in" on a steam grating and eating out of trash cans to the rat race of multi-million dollar-a-year TV stardom? Yeah, that's the life! I'll bet that homeless guy feels simply awful for poor Tom having to get up and go to work at that unGodly hour.

Another thing: ever notice how, every time some company announces a big layoff, it's reported that "Wall Street applauded the move" and the friggin' stock goes up? They LIKE it when we sweathogs lose our jobs! If we were part of the economy, that would be a bad thing. Good thing we aren't, huh?

I really don't want to sound like some Commie on a soap box in Times Square hollering about "redistribution of wealth" or something, but if investors are actually hoping that I'll lose my job (and cheering when I do), that kind of makes them my enemy, wouldn't you say? I want to yell, like Bugs Bunny did in a bunch of cartoons, "Of course you know, this means WAR!" (If I was really a Commie, I'd have Che Guevara as my inspiration. Me, I've got Bugs Bunny.)

If it's okay for them to root for my failure, then it should be okay for me to hope they fall flat on their ass, right? OK, then, I want the stock market to collapse. Totally. I mean like 1929 revisited. We can skip the "diving out of windows" part 'cause I don't want any gory stuff, but I wouldn't mind seeing a few day traders having to sell apples on the corner. I think it would be character building for them to find out what it's like to work for a living.

I especially want that friggin' NASDAQ to go kersploosh into the toilet. That's the market that has the "high tech" stocks, the ones that have never made any money, don't demonstrate any likelihood of making money in the near future and are the darlings of the CNBC crowd. Believe it or not, kids, in the olden days, you bought stock in a company because you thought the company would make money by selling its products at a profit. Nowadays, these dot com IPO deals work on the "greater fool" theory. You buy it at 10, not even knowing what the company makes or if it has a chance to ever be profitable, figuring that some bigger nimrod will buy it from you at 15 or 20 or, if you're really lucky, 200. Of course, he's only buying it figuring that there's an even bigger nimrod out there who will buy if from him at 250. The trouble with this system, as with all pyramid schemes, is that eventually you run out of nimrods with disposable income. At that point, the bottom falls out and the stock is worth less than the original 10. Oops.

In my fantasy, the market has just collapsed and I turn on CNBC. The on-camera analyst looks like crap. His tie is askew, his hair is all messy and he's rambling incoherently about how he's lost every dime he had. Finally, they have to physically remove him from the anchor chair. Ah, what a lovely dream!

OK, so some investors would be wiped out. Nobody in the media seemed to think it was a big deal when blue-collar types got canned and couldn't make their house payments, so why would this be different? The sun would rise the next day as it always does. Millions and millions of rank and file Americans who own no stock would shuffle off to work as they always do. I suspect that not a lot would change for the average person, actually. Slowly, the market would get back on its feet. Maybe, just maybe, this time, though, investors would be wary of putting their money into companies that are basically big, empty shells and return to supporting businesses that actually make stuff and create decent-paying long-term jobs.

Oh, I forgot one part of my little fantasy. The market crash has hit some media types the hardest. Some of the biggest names in show business are completely wiped out. There is a silver lining, though. Tom Brokaw has his very own steam grating and gets to sleep in as late as he wants to, every day!




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