CNBC host Maria Bartiromo and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson awkwardly avoided a question concerning bankers and income inequality from former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday. Bartiromo and Paulson are defenders of Wall Street, advocating for moving towards sustainable economic growth with less scrutiny on the financial crisis as a solution to income inequality. While this is a pleasant outlook on the five-year anniversary of the bank failure, it fails to challenge the cultural and economic landscape of the financial industry itself. Wall Street finance titans continue to expand their economic growth, continuing the same bad behaviors that helped cause the 2008 economic collapse in the first place.
Frank asks: "To your question about those poor beleaguered bankers who have been forced to do so much, why are they paying themselves so much money? Where did these enormous salaries come from if they were in fact in such serious trouble?"
Bartiromo responds: (laughing) "Thank you for giving me that one. Okay."
At that point, Paulson reigns it in by repositioning the conversation on moving past the financial crisis, and towards a better economic future.
Watch the awkward interaction here:
How can we blatantly ignore the impact of the economic recession when unfaltering financial trends continue to cause the economic inequalities Bartiromo and Paulson are proposing to solve? According to Think Progress, banker bonuses and bank profits for Wall Street CEOs have seen significant increase, a third of the highest-paid executives of the past 20 years have been frauds, and companies regularly manipulate performance-based compensation schemes to ensure executive payouts. The financial industry has been the primary driver of income inequalit, so how can we look to them to resolve the problem of economic inequality? We can't.
"NBC host David Gregory observed that only 14% of Americans had a positive view of Wall Street firms, and that growing income inequality meant that the banks may have come out on top," Raw Story reports.
A call for changed policies and restructuring the financial industry should be at the focal point of discussion. According to Business Insider, fiscal policy should be more progressive and President Obama has materialized this by increasing tax rates on high incomes and capital gains, and using it to develop a health care system for low-middle income earners.
There are many strategies to eradicate income inequality, from making it easier to join unions to getting the Federal Reserve to care about unemployment. But one thing is for sure: we shouldn’t be looking to Wall Street to save us, nor trust them to move towards "sustainable economic growth." Rather, focusing on policy reform and the reorganization of the financial industry will equalize income distribution and minimize wealth disparity.