DrMyers’s Blog

November 25, 2008

I Beg Your Pardon: Mainstreet?

Yesterday, I was re-acquainted with the “convenience” of living in a smaller community or as some have coined it…main street.  After being apart of the military, and living in Los Angeles, coming back to a quaint community can in itself be a culture shock.  During the weekend we received word of an old friend of mine, who had moved to California, had gotten into a bind.  His mother had recently been diagnosed with some medical problems, and with the normal reaction of most…he wanted to come home!  Due to the downturn in the economy, he had not found adequate work, so he did not have the disposable income to just dash thousands of miles.  To those who were his friends at home, they too wanted to see him come to the aid of his mother, but like he was in California, things did not look good on the home front and there was no way to get him home.  So with a common goal of getting this friend home, people chipped in five dollars here and ten dollars there, until the amount needed was reached, and he is on a bus now headed home to be with his mother.  This was a perfect example of the social contract that we all share with each other, being upheld and carried out.  Something that had not been displayed on Wall Street.

With all of the talk about “Wall Street” and “Main Street”, one would wonder if these are just terms of endearment, or terms that define real, tangible people and places.  Perhaps I can explain.  There is a distinct difference between Wall Street (which is a physical place), and Main Street (Which is a term that has been used to describe a broader element of America).

Wall Street, the first permanent home of the Stock Exchange, is a street in lower Manhattan, NY, that runs East from Broadway.  Its’ name was derived from the fact that in the 17th century,  Wall Street was actually the northern boundary of the New Amsterdam settlement.  The NYSE, NASDAQ, AMEX, NYMEX, and NYBOT all call this street home.  When referring to “Wall Street”, the term is usually used to describe those working in this financial district.  So, when watching television, and hearing reporter after reporter talk about bailing out “Wall Street”, they really mean the people who work and are effected by those within some corporations and/or institution, that have some dealing with the financial district on this Street.  We know which businesses and institutions are represented on this street, and by who.  

This is one of the only streets in America, who’s dealings effect the actions and trade on every Main Street across this nation.  Mainstreet is the metonym for a generic street name (and often the official name) of the primary retail street of a village or town in many parts of the world. It is usually a focal point for shops and retailers in the central business district, and is most often used in reference to retailing and socialising.  This term is very vague, and can basically be described as every street but Wall Street.

What is even more vague, is the distinct plan that has been promised by politicians in Washington to save Main Street.  Main Street, for some reason, has been on the lips of speakers at every news conference since September.  Paulson has now said that all of the programs initiated by the government, is to support lending, which has been down and is important to the survival of this economy.  A pair of plans that equal up to $800 billion dollars has been introduced to do just that.  This money will help unfreeze the market for consumer debt which Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is stressing again to be a vital part of this economy.

Here is my question?  We are basing the success of our economy, on lending, to people who have nothing, and can only offer a promise, based on the future which now looks bleak.  Not actual cold cash, but a “Promise”.  Lets not forget that on every dollar that we have, there are two words that simply state that its “legal tender”, and it’s also a “Promissory Note”.  To say the least, some answers should be given, and given quickly on how Wall Street got Main Street in the mess altogether.

This time during the political transition, we will also begin to hear a great deal about Pardons by the exiting President.  A pardon is the forgiveness of a crime and the penalty associated with it.  Ford pardoned Nixon, and Johnson Pardoned the Confederacy.  However, I do not believe that it is the wish or desire for Main street to pardon Wall Street.   A debt to Main street is now owed, and can not be pardoned until it is repaid!

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