Nov 12, 2012
At 8 PM on Monday, October 29, the eye of Hurricane Sandy hit New York City.
More than two weeks later, in New York City, at least 40,000 people were still homeless. Forty were known dead. Over half a million people were still without power, heat, often without even water.
But guess what? The Stock Exchange was humming!
Yes, less than 48 hours after Sandy struck, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was ready to ring the bell to open the New York Stock Exchange for business.
Wall Street had prepared for Sandy. As reported in the New York Times, “for days, exchange officials traded lengthy conference calls with trading firms, regulators, and city and state officials about how best to resume trading in the nation’s financial heart.” The Exchange had an executive in the city’s storm command center. They sent emergency fuel to emergency generators to run the computers. They sent cars to bring in “critical” personnel.
They made careful preparations to quickly resume trading of stocks and bonds, while rescuers were still pulling the bodies of children from flooded ruins. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of people waited, and waited, and waited on help that was deemed a lower priority than helping Wall Street.
This is capitalist society. The flow of dollars takes top priority. The flow of services essential to sustain human life comes later – or, if the communities are poor, late or never.
Capital muscles itself to the head of every line, even in a disaster.