When Wall Street destroys hope

There have been more than a few jokers on Wall Street who made over a billion dollars in a year as “hedge fund traders.” If you wonder where your home values went, your pension money went, or why your city can’t figure out how to pay for street lights- if your IQ is bigger than your shoe size, you should be able to put two and two together and realize you’ve been robbed.

For what would be less than rounding error on these men’s tax returns, a charter school that has been transforming lives and keeping young men and women out of prison and poverty for 20 years is going to close.

ISUS (Improved Solutions for Urban Systems) was the first alternative charter school in Dayton. Run by one tough woman, Ann Higdon, she created a high school for kids who weren’t doing well in a regular school- or had already dropped out, where kids would learn, hands on, how to build and repair homes. They even had a modular home assembly line in the building. She was a bit of a celebrity on the vocational education circuit and has won numerous awards.

The school stayed in business partially based on profits from selling the homes that the students built. Thanks to the Wall Street meltdown, that model broke.
For the lack of buyers, 200 kids (at one point the school had over 300 students) and a staff of 38 will be on the street next year. The building- which the frugal Ann never bothered to buy a proper sign for, is about to be auctioned off.

If you calculate the difference between a lifetime of crime or welfare for the kids she’s trained and the benefit to society from having these kids with real skills and jobs- over 20 years, for 100 kids per year- that’s 2,000 kids you won’t have to pay for a lifetime of food stamps or prison bills.

What did we get from the wizards of Wall Street? Where was the trickle down?

Or- if we stopped allowing our political offices to be sold to the highest bidders- we could put $1 million down on saving this worthwhile program- instead of donating to the Romney campaign.

There is one quote in the DDN story on ISUS worth repeating:

“What ISUS is focusing on is, ‘Where is the support coming from?’ ” she said. “I think ISUS is too good of an idea to give up on.”

via $2M debt ?to close charter school.

ISUS was a proven program that worked. It was an education program that saved us money. It was one of the great things in Dayton that most of us hardly knew was there and now it’s going to be gone.

This is why Wall Street needs real regulation. This is why we need to stop believing that spending billions on elections will buy us good government or that it’s free speech, when it in fact makes political speech extremely expensive and carefully worded.

Dayton Public Schools would do well to try to absorb ISUS and find a way to put it back in business- but they too are cash strapped.

It’s sad that we can find money in our national budget to keep the C27J or continue on the road to reckless spending on the F-35 and spend trillions on Afghanistan, but can’t find the money to keep a school open.

It’s also insane that David Tepper of Appaloosa Management, made $4 billion in 2009 on Wall Street- as our economy collapsed.

If there is still justice in America, I’m not seeing it.

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10 Responses

  1. Robert Vigh June 21, 2012 / 5:11 pm
    Did the man on wall street take any person’s money by force? Did he employ someone with guns to go out and seize the money he made? Did everyone who did business with that company do it willingly without duress? Did the people that work for David Tepper get compensated for their work in the form of employment?
    I was just wondering what type of Justice was required in this circumstance.
    Less government please.
    It is a bummer that the school is closing. However, if the housing market is crashing, teaching students to build houses is not really an intelligent trade to teach. Perhaps the school should have changed models to something else.
  2. David Esrati June 21, 2012 / 6:31 pm

    Yeah Robert, they should teach them how to be economic parasites creating what should be illegal secondary and tertiary market paper that’s not worth a crap- trading it, and taking huge cuts on the transaction fees.

    Someone has to build the 10 house these shysters own.

  3. Chuckie Chops-A-Lot June 21, 2012 / 9:36 pm
    You are right-on in calling for campaign finance reform.  I’ve always been agrevated at members of both parties.  They campaign on fiscal responsibility.  All the while, accepting millions in campaign contributions from the robber barons that have interests that stand contrary to overall utility.  No matter your political affiliation, I wish all would realize that money does not equal speech and nothing is going to be fixed as long as money equals political power.  In the words of the wise Christopher Wallace “Mo money; Mo problems.”
  4. Dan June 22, 2012 / 4:08 pm
    “Less government please.”
    Sorry Robert. If there’s one thing I want it’s for government to protect me and my family from predators… and lately Wall Street’s been acting like a wolf pack. I’m even very willing to pay for it.
  5. Robert Vigh June 26, 2012 / 1:33 pm
    Look at the solution for the school. A model which teaches a different trade which is in demand. A new model based on market needs that allows them funding and preps the students with skills likely to still be in demand when they graduate. Funny how exactly what I said has come to pass and David, simply went on a whine fest when I suggested such an insane proposition.
     
    Lets look at this as though things had come to pass via government intervention. We would have regulated and/or taxed wall street people more in order to sustain the school building houses. But, yet the market would not need houses. The “Savior” would not come into play, because the school would be government funded and we would not have a transition from goods which we are over supplied on, to goods that we have demand on. We would have created a parasitic school teaching skills that the market no longer demanded and denied an entrepreneurial intervention by our savior. We would essentially have screwed wealthy people out of money in order to teach people skills that the market was not demanding and helping no one in the process.
     
    Dan, care to elaborate? I was simply pointing out that the wealthy people we seem to want to disparage are not forcing people to do business with them. The article seemed to be half about justice and half about the school. I am glad the school had a transformative intervention. But I was very unclear on the justice required for people on wall street. Through some retirement accounts, I have business with wall street. They have done well for me. I cannot say the same for the value I receive against the tax dollars I pay. I get a horrible return on my tax dollars. I can fire one group if they perform poorly. The other one however just seems to want more and more and give less and less.
     
  6. Dan June 26, 2012 / 2:45 pm
    “I get a horrible return on my tax dollars.”
    How do you figure? You use the resources your tax dollars pay for everyday, whether you realize it or not. And those that you don’t use are there if you need them should those investments go belly up.
     
    “Through some retirement accounts, I have business with wall street. They have done well for me.”
    I’m glad your are doing well, cause I know about a million or so people with 401Ks who can’t say the same… and those were sold as virtually risk free… and well, they would have been had the market been operating how all of us “not in the know” thought it was. You’re right, no one forced anyone to do business with these people, but we also believed we could trust them to behave honorably toward their clients, but the way the system is set up right now they can actually make more money by selling us out it seems. With proper regulation to prevent the wild speculation we all bore witness to people will trust them again and the market will rebound. I don’t know about you but me and most of the people I know can’t afford to give wall street our money to play casino with again.
     
    “Dan, care to elaborate?”
    David’s “whine” was wrapped around the notion that this business model would not have had to change had the markets been regulated properly in the first place. He is correct. We’ve been on a downward slope of deregulation for 25+ years. It’s created booms and busts… major busts… this is not a market that thrives on stability, yet we as human beings need that stability in place, we need those regulations, especially those of us at the middle or bottom, because most of us just want to get by and have a happy life, something a 401K and other retirement packages promised. Many people have no issues giving our government massive power over the military to prevent enemies abroad from harming us, yet they cry foul and call for smaller government when we want to give government the power to fight our economic enemies at home. I just don’t get that at all.
  7. Robert Vigh June 26, 2012 / 5:17 pm
    Dan,
    Social Security / Medi-care take about 15K out of my pocket every year. I am self employed, so I get to cover the full 15.3%. Those programs according to most projections will be broke about 5 years before I retire. So, I will contribute through my life somewhere in the vicinity of 500K and literally receive nothing back. That is about 50 years of investment just washed away.
     
    There is a myriad of Federal, state and local investment where the services that I will ever use are going to be valued at about .30 on the 1.00. We could go through them, but the most egregious example is above. I think the 2nd most egregious example is the printing of money. The driving of inflation is a tax on anyone who saves their money. It also forces you to look for an investment vehicle to keep pace with inflation simply so that your hard work and savings does not devalue over time. One of the ways the government drives a lot of money towards wall street by the way.
     
    As for the rest, you blame private people and I blame the government. It is complex, but I would imagine we have very different understandings of the crashing of markets. 
     
    I do not understand the military spenders either. I am not in agreement with them either. But, I simply do not think we can pick a group of people like wealthy wall street individuals and demonize them for ineffective and corrupt government. Make government smaller and there is less chance to manipulate them and less impact if/when it happens.
  8. Dan June 26, 2012 / 5:46 pm
    I actually blame both private people and the government and American greed in general. At least the government “we the people” have some control over, hence I am more in favor of letting them regulate the corporation (a group of individuals) who “we the people” have no power over but are still capable of incredible harm to other individuals, as we’ve seen. Government is a tool, and it was set up originally to be our tool. Unfortunately it has degraded and been bought and paid for to be the tool of only the most powerful and wealthy individuals… democrats and republicans alike are both guilty. Americans have grown “fat, lazy and complacent” but I believe we can take our government back, and perhaps the crashing of medicare and social security will be the spark to set it in motion. I believe that government, our tax money and social programs can be implemented and used responsibly for the betterment of all society, in fact I know they are necessary for a country to be great. But we need to start behaving like a society interested in the systems that pull our strings to make sure they only pull for all of us and not just a few of them. We need government regulations on potentially harmful businesses and we need to regulate our regulators. We need manageably sized governement, not small government.
  9. Diane June 26, 2012 / 5:52 pm
    Government is a tool all right.

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