Main Street Tells Wall Street, âGet a Real Jobâ: Susan Antilla Share Business ExchangeTwitterFacebook| Email | Print | A A A http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601039&sid=aQWBajhBATUU Commentary by Susan Antilla Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Wall Street, meet Eric W. Haugaard, a civil engineer who designs water and sewer-line systems for the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Haugaard says he had tears in his eyes as he watched Barack Obamaâs acceptance speech, hopeful that politics would get more constructive and the economic crisis would get fixed. Today, he is disgusted when he thinks about âwhat Wall Street has done to average, honest, tax-paying, no-loopholes citizens,â and says it makes him ill when he considers that Congress is letting taxpayer-assisted financial outfits get rich âwithout producing anything of real value to our society.â Haugaard, one of dozens of readers who e-mailed me in response to a Nov. 3 column titled âWall Street Cries âFeed Meâ or World Will End,â is despondent that, even after the economic horror of the past year, people in finance are unrepentant. âI want these swine prosecuted,â wrote Robert Carlini of Richmond, Michigan, an auto-industry executive who says he is a âstaunch conservative.â In the 14 years Iâve written columns for Bloomberg News, Iâve had plenty of feedback from investors who said they lost money at the hands of corrupt brokers, plus a steady stream of vitriol from financial executives who say Iâm clueless, stupid, and deserve to lose my job. I have never, though, been bombarded with anything like the fury and frustration expressed this time by people far removed from Wall Street, ranging from computer programmers to administrative assistants to the caretaker of an estate. Typically a handful of e-mails will float in; this time the number topped 60 and counting. Expressing Disillusion Chase Van Der Rhoer of HSBC Securities in New York, one of six Bloomberg customers from Wall Street who responded, said I had it all wrong. I was âuninformedâ for painting all Wall Street firms with the same brush no matter whether they received a bailout. He suggested that an emotional outcry by the public shouldnât be the basis of setting public policy. Four of the Bloomberg customers who wrote, though, expressed disillusion with how out-of-touch their own industry has become. Off Wall Street, the rage is palpable. Several readers said they were so enraged that acts of violence were called for against figures in finance. Most, though angry, managed to stake positions a tad more constructive. For starters, they are mystified that government is loaded with economic decision-makers who hail from finance. Obamaâs top staff âseems to be tied more to Wall Street than to Main Street,â wrote Patrick Williams, a manager in Orlando, Florida. Treasuryâs Goldmanites âIf this administration really wanted to create policy and push agendas helpful to consumers, it would not have a Treasury Department populated by Goldmanites and other Wall Street alums,â wrote Melissa Huelsman, a lawyer in Seattle. A number of readers said that we should have simply tested the capitalist system and let financial firms fail. âAmericans are innovators,â wrote Steven Smith, an out-of-work MRI technologist in Austin, Texas. âWe would have figured out a new way, a better way to do business without the greedy monsters on Wall Street.â A great starting point would be to slash bankersâ pay 60 percent across the board, in the view of Richard Watson, a software writer in Johannesburg, South Africa. He figures that might lead to some smart people in finance relocating to jobs where people âproduce something.â I hate to break it to you, Wall Street, but Main Street is puzzled about why the monetary rewards of the industry seem so out of synch with its social contribution. The work of Wall Street âdoesnât go toward curing cancer, feeding the worldâs poor, creating new innovative technologies to take us to a post- carbon-powered world -- it does no real work,â wrote Wayne Wells, who works for a paper company in Eastover, South Carolina. Wall Street Rap Weâve heard the Wall Street rap on this. The world -- or at least a tiny, flush segment of it -- will suffer if limits are put on compensation. Innovation will go limp as talented financial workers quit for higher-paying jobs. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. chief Lloyd Blankfein told the Times of London last week that his firm fulfills a âsocial purposeâ when it raises capital that helps companies grow. But Main Street isnât up in arms about the capital-raising role of Wall Street. Theyâre upset because they are paying for the damage caused by credit-default swaps and other âinnovations.â Terry Bailey of Auburn, Nebraska, an office assistant at a local college, says the financial industry is out of touch with the public and weighed down with an inflated view of its value. If new regulations lead to a stifling of innovation on Wall Street, Jim Ledbetter, an electric-utility engineer in Southaven, Mississippi, says âSo what?â Ferraris Dusted Off So far, though, the reaction to Main Streetâs ire has been an equally vociferous âSo what,â as the financial industry prepares to dole out bonuses that will have the Ferrari dealers hustling to brush the dust off their inventory. That disconnect between what Main Street thinks and how Wall Street acts might reflect nothing more than obliviousness to the concerns of the average person. A second possibility is more troubling. If people on Wall Street have chits in with everybody that matters, who cares if the public is mad? Stewart Ewen, a Hunter College professor who writes on contemporary culture, tells me his guess is that Wall Street owns the decision makers and doesnât care about the rest. If I thought the public had any money left to bet on it, Iâd tell them to ante up that Ewenâs hunch is right.