Social Justice Poetry

financial regulation poems

Capitalism and Human Nature Must Be Regulated | A Social Justice Poem by Donal Mahoney

“What can we do to make this right?”

The speaker is Phil Burns, owner of the brokerage firm that Owen Mitchell has had money invested with for years. Owen’s not rich and not poor. He just prefers the action of the stock market to the passivity of fixed income.

Owen says nothing, sits in his chair opposite Phil’s desk and stares straight ahead.

Finally Phil says, “Owen, we’ll credit your account with the money Bernie stole and add the profits you would have made during the Trump run-up. What more can we do? We don’t want to lose you as a customer.”

Owen knows Phil is a decent man doing his best to make good on the problems caused by Bernie, a rogue broker, who stole from Owen’s account, figuring perhaps because of age Owen wouldn’t notice.

Owen noticed so he called Phil who had opened Owen’s account more than 30 years ago. That was before Phil bought the company. Many other people have managed Owen’s account since then without any problems until Bernie took it over.

Phil called the cops and fired Bernie. After the criminal case is finalized, Phil plans to sue Bernie and give the proceeds to Owen. A very decent thing to do.

Owen won’t lose a cent once he and the firm figure out how much was stolen and how much he would have earned on the Trump run-up. Now Phil is trying to convince Owen not to move his money to another firm. He knows Owen won’t sue him or the company. They’ve been friends too long.

“Phil, I thank you for making the money right but I’m going to another company,” Owen tells him. “I bear Bernie no ill will.

“I know this sounds strange but I forgave Bernie long ago. I have found that forgiving is easy; it’s the forgetting that’s hard to do.”

Phil has a problem with Owen’s explanation.

“Owen, what’s with the forgiving and the forgetting? We’re going to make you whole, add another 10 percent for being so decent about this and want to keep you as a customer.”

“Phil, if I don’t leave you now, every month when I get your statement I’ll fly into a rage—not at Bernie, who will probably be in jail, but over all that has happened.

“I have learned over the years when someone bothers me I don’t forget simply because I can forgive. I do nothing to get even. But being reminded of what happened is like bad indigestion. And they have no proton pump inhibitors for that.

“Capitalism has many problems and always will because people run capitalism and people have problems and always will. Problems are in the DNA of both.

“Human nature and capitalism both suffer from an autoimmune disease. No cause, no cure, and at times the disease flares up without explanation.

“Phil, I have an autoimmune disease few people have heard of—myasthenia gravis. Even when I take my meds, every few years it flies into high gear.

“Double vision. Not easy to eat. I can’t talk. I sound like Bugs Bunny.

“My doc says double the meds and in a couple of weeks it comes under control. But as with human nature and capitalism, it’s always a threat to flare up and cause more problems in the future.

After a little more conversation, Phil says he understands but he really doesn’t.

Before parting, Phil apologizes in advance about the taxes Owen will have to pay on the profits by moving his account. If Owen will let him know the amount of the taxes involved, Phil says the company will pay that as well.

“Phil, it’s not the money involved because I will lose nothing,” Owen says. “But if you find out some way I can forget this ever happened, give me a call.”

Phil says he will and then says he agrees that capitalism like human nature suffers from an autoimmune disease.

“No cause, no cure, for either. They both must be regulated. Not easy to do.”

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Payday Lender Customer Briefly Seen on TV | A Social Justice Poem by Howard Richard Debs

Good evening, I’m Harriet
Ashbury your roving reporter at WNTV
and I’m standing here in the middle
of this establishment talking to people
waiting in line to take out loans against
their next paycheck. The new Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau has
just proposed regulations for
these types of short term small loans
and we want to find out what those
who use these think. So your name is?
Have you been to this place before?
Oh, yes, many times, I’m here
to refinance and get $150 now to pay the rent
it’s due before my next paycheck goes through.
Where do you work?
I’m at Burger Bob’s
mostly in the back doin’ fries.
How much do you
earn if you don’t mind my asking?
I make eight bucks an hour, they have me work
30 hours, so they don’t pay no benefits;
my mom, she can’t work has a bad back, she takes
care of my two little girls so I can be at BB’s, so it’s
hard making it through each week
with groceries, rent, you know what I mean.
Where’s your husband? Do you have a husband?
He left me, he drank pretty much. It’s better he’s gone.
Where do you live? Tell me about where you live.
We live at the Acres Inn
just a little ways down the street.
You mean you all live in a motel room?
Can’t you get assistance, like food stamps,
that sort of thing?
I don’t qualify, that’s what they told me,
anyway I don’t want a hand
out, we make it OK.
Isn’t the Acres the place
that just was cited by the Health Department?
Yeah, we got rats, roaches, you try not
to think about it, stay outta their way.
Will you have enough to pay
off the loan when it comes due?
Prob’ly not, it’s alright, I’ll
roll it over like usual.
But you keep paying
and doesn’t the interest just add up?
I don’t have no choice, I wanna have
a place for us — we gotta live.
That’s all the time we have,
I’m Harriet Ashbury reporting for WNTV, now
back to the newsroom for your local weather.

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