This is Part 3 in a 5 part series based around Wall Street Kid for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It originally appeared in the zine The Backlog: Fortunate Son.
To buy this in zine form, click here.
The Kid earns every penny he makes. There’s no doubt that all of the money flows in as a result of his decisions. So, to separate the Kid from the video game setting, if he were accused of being “privileged”, his first reaction might be anger. He might get offended at the notion and say something that is absolutely true: he earned his money. All of the money he made came as a result of his decisions and no one else’s. The beauty of the stock market, especially on a computer screen, is that it perfectly masks the people who make it possible. Numbers get larger or smaller. Currency flows from one account into another. But on the other side of those numbers, are thousands, maybe millions, of people perfectly executing pirouettes in their own private ballets.
Directly on the other side of the computer screen are the floor traders. These are the men and women who you might have seen in ‘80s movies such as Wall Street, Trading Places, or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off who physically sign and exchange pieces of paper representing “stock” in a company. The Kid types on his computer, but the floor traders are responsible for making the transactions.
Aside from that are the other stockholders. Every time someone buys a stock, that stock is sold by someone else. Those slips of papers on the floor represent pieces of a corporation that are owned by a person. Millions of those company owners are trading those little pieces of paper. Some of them are just like the Kid: day traders in a home office. Others are traders at large firms. But still, the majority of the people are folks like you and me, regular citizens who have some sort of portfolio.
In reality, the Kid did not make all of his money on “his own”. He relied on floor traders and other stock holders, not to mention the countless people who work for these corporations and the customers who keep them in business. Despite not interacting with anyone else, the Kid has actually made money off the work of millions of people! To say that he did it “all by himself” is not only delusional, it’s factually incorrect.
This, in essence, describes the problem with “privilege”: those who have it, don’t realize it. Not only did the Kid make money off of millions of other people, he was given $500,000 to start his business. After he buys a car, he can use that as collateral in order to buy a yacht, which he can then use as collateral to buy a mansion. To someone who is privileged, “privilege” just looks like the “default” setting. If the Kid doesn’t know any other way, then how can he understand that he has it better?