Salon has an excellent article How the rich stole our money — and made us think they were doing us a favor.
Big business and wealthy interests pushed through Wall Street deregulation during the Reagan and Clinton eras, which not only boosted the stock market but also allowed large banks to make unprecedented money off of home loans. The end result was that wealthy landlords and asset owners got much richer while rents increased and wages declined, but most Americans didn’t feel the pinch because rising home values made them feel rich on paper until the Great Recession.
As I remember it, I think it must have been some time in the 1980s when I realized that depending on a salary was never going to lead me to financial independence. That was when I realized that taking advantage of the 401K/IRA system would allow me to become an asset owner. I never wanted to be a landlord. That would require too much interaction with real people on a timely basis. I decided to finally learn how to become a stock owner in a way that was compatible with my tendency to procrastinate. I did manage to become financially independent enough to retire shortly after I reached the age of 62.
Getting to this stage of independence did force me to learn how to play the oligarchs’ game even though I didn’t like the way that game was set up. That is a moral conundrum many of us have been forced into. We may not like what this system does to people, but as a matter of survival, we have to learn how to use it. At least that is my excuse, and I am sticking to it.
My excuse could be the one that Elizabeth Warren could use to justify her financial success in the world. It would be great if she had the courage to openly discuss this.