There were 200,000 "financial industry" layoffs during fiscal 2007-08 and nearly another 150,000 since this previous summer. Bank of America and Citi announced more than 70K layoffs in 2008, alone. In fact, CNN has reported that layoffs in finance outpace the layoffs in manufacturing this year. That's no small accomplishment.
Most people in "finance" are not millionaires. I know. I worked at both a mortgage bank and a title insurance company in the past. The majority of workers were women, inputing data and making low wages. Many of the employees had only high school diplomas and they worked very hard, long hours. (The disparity between the workers and the executives was extremely unbalanced.)
I'm sick of hearing people celebrate "Wall Street" layoffs. Sure, there are fat, greedy pigs at some companies. There are scum in most industries -- it's just easier to hate bankers and lawyers. But when a bank closes or an investment firm fails, it's the people who do the most work who are hurt. They are hurt a lot.
The men and women I know who did earn a good living worked incredible hours. They were up at 4 a.m. to track markets and interest rates. They did everything they could to research risks and help customers. They weren't wolves; they were honest people trying to help others.
I'm sick of the class warfare being played by politicians (and press secretaries). Just because someone works for a JP Morgan or Bank of America does not make that person rich or evil.
The money in the market is not just from the rich, either. It's educators like me enrolled in various pension funds. It's union pensions, state pension, private 401Ks, and SEPs. A whole lot of us depend on those evil "Wall Street" employees for our retirements.
And don't start telling me this is all about free market capitalism gone bad. The GSEs are not "free maket" but Fannie and Freddie definitely caused a lot of pain and misery in the last two years. Politicians, from two parties, mucked up this system with various "incentives" that encouraged some really, really stupid behaviors. You start giving people a tax break (or free money) for wearing pants on their heads, they'll do it.
Sadly, the people at the top who did what the government encouraged ended up hurting thousands of workers. Those workers, like many manufacturing workers, did nothing wrong. Their management and our leaders did a lot wrong... especially over the last decade. A worker is a worker. Period.