Conservatives are often depicted as mean. I have a Georgetown liberal friend who thinks conservatives "spew hatred." You know who really spews a bit of the old hatred?
Bernie Sanders, when he condemns Wall Street lock stock and barrel (if you'll pardon the expression, Hillary), even though a lot of decent people work there. Even though the capitalist system has done more to get people out of poverty that all the socialist regimes in history.
Joe Rosenberg, who has worked on Wall Street for more than fifty years and is chief investment strategist at Loews Corp., defends Wall Street in today's Wall Street Journal. Rosenberg is an immigrant who passed through Ellis Island seventy-five years ago. His family had seen first-hand what National Socialism wrought in Europe.
He has also seen first-hand what the capitalist system can do for families such as his own. Rosenberg initially believed in the dream of collectivism and put it into action by going to work on a kibbutz, a collective farm, in Israel. The kibbutz, he recalls, put into reality Karl Marx's formulation of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."
Although voluntary, unlike in socialist regimes, Israel's collectivism did not produce great results. Rosenberg left when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He eventually returned to school to get a college degree and went to work on Wall Street to support his family. He writes:
My Wall Street is the real Wall Street—not the imaginary one that Bernie Sanders demonizes daily. My Wall Street is a place filled with opportunities to succeed, even for an immigrant like me without any connections or relatives in the business. Here, I could reach the pinnacle of my profession based on merit.
Unlike a certain politically ambitious Brooklynite-turned-Vermonter, I did not have to denigrate others to advance my career. To the contrary, I found wonderful mentors who were happy to reward me for hard work. Much of the job was difficult and far from fun. But I rose—and occasionally fell a bit—based on what I produced, not how many people I could get to toe some party line.
My experience is far from unique. I have many colleagues who left supposed paradises, socialist countries like China, Russia and Greece, and now strive to succeed on Wall Street. They’re seeking not a handout but a piece of the American Dream, just as I did. When I entered the business Wall Street was a far clubbier place than today. It has increasingly become a meritocracy open to people of every background.
Sen. Sanders ought to ask some of the immigrants who work on Wall Street what they think about the opportunities that this country affords, rather than going to college campuses and attacking the financial industry to further his own political ends. He should ask some recent immigrants from India and the emerging world what the true meaning of income inequality is.
Bernie Sanders and I are poster children for what poor Jews from Brooklyn or Germany can accomplish in this great land of opportunity. So I ask him: Please stop tearing down the country that has been so good to both of us.
Thus it is good news that a number of Wall Street firms are now standing up to Sanders, as reported in a column yesterday by Kimberley Strassel. In a column headlined "Bernie's Spinal Surgery on CEOs," Strassel praises a handful of CEOs who are finding the gumption to defend themselves. But they have a lot of catching up to do.