Better-than-expected results were common for the major money-center banks that reported earnings this week. The announcement of these "good results" were accompanied by more layoff notices from every large bank. Wall Street continues to downsize as the rest of the economy remains in hunker-down mode.
We are gradually becoming accustomed to accepting economic stagnation as the new normal. Reminiscent of the 1970s, Americans are becoming used to sluggish job prospects, sluggish income and wealth growth, and massive and continuing unemployment. All of this is now described, by the president's coterie of supporters in the media, as an improving economy. This is not an improving economy so much as a different economy.
The place to be is somewhere in the government or quasi-government sector. You can make high six figure incomes at a relaxed pace in the upper echelons of most large universities. Even better, you probably aren't at risk of being laid off. But, if your plan is to enter the private sector and work your way up, the historic pathway of the American dream, you can probably forget it.
Working for government, at any level, is the ticket. Once an economy reaches the degree of government control and government ownership that the American economy has reached, the pathway to success changes. You can't depend upon the vibrancy of the economy any longer. That vibrancy has been legislated out of existence. So heading off to the private sector is problematic. Instead, it is time to strap on your politics and find your way into a government job or a non-profit job or a job in the educational sector. That is the pathway to success in the new economy.
Of course, this means increasingly that economic growth will not happen. How can it, when most people that "work" aren't involved in producing anything. Many so-called "workers" are mainly enforcing laws that prohibit others from working. If you have an economy where a growing percentage of workers produce laws and regulations and then enforce them, while a dwindling few produce anything of substance, then the real pie can't grow.
Instead you create a national divide -- something we can already see emerging -- between those in the protected sectors of government, education, and non-profit (funded by tax-reducing so-called charitable donations) who have incomes and job security and those fending for their life in the increasingly marginalized private sector.
So, the new Wall Street is simply the most visible current display of the decline of American economic leadership. The Obama plan is working.