Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Slap on Their Wrist, and a Slap in Our Faces

I believe in this administration. At least, I want to believe in this administration. But they continue to test my patience as they seem to be unable to turn words into meaningful deeds. Their struggles are no more evident than in the latest pronouncement on the oversight of the monies being paid out to 7 firms who have received billions and billions of dollars in bailout aid.

While we read in another front page article in today's NY Times of 500 people signing up to try to win 1 job paying $13 per hour, we are simultaneously advised that the top 25 earners at 7 companies who survived due solely to our largesse, may only have to settle for being very rich this year. Let's see, 175 people in total receive diminished compensation while millions of people do without. It doesn't take a math major to determine that there continues to be a staggering inequity here.

The companies who fall under the watchful eye of the government, are only those like AIG, Citigroup, Bank of America and Chrysler who have been unable to repay the government the monies delivered to them at the height of the crisis. Many others have shrugged off the continuing downturn as little more than an annoyance. For those companies whose ships have been righted, and who have handed back their government loans with a wink and a smile, there are no reprisals. These giants are about to pay bonuses larger than ever and there is NOTHING being done to stop them. Greed runs rampant in these institutions.

What message are we receiving when there is nothing but a symbolic slap on the wrist for all the pain and suffering caused by the misdeeds of these companies? Further,when the worst of the worst now are now once more living in excess without so much as a hint of remorse, or recompense, we feel deeply wronged. When one opening at a truck driving school in Indiana results in applications from a former IBM business analyst with 18 years experience, a former director of human resources and someone with a master's degree and 12 years at a top accounting firm, we know that something is still terribly amiss.

We continue to learn the ugly truths about the political process. Movement, we are told, is accomplished in slow, imperceptible ways. Early this year, the President spoke of the economy being like a big ocean liner, not a speedboat, that doesn't turn around immediately. When those who so abused our system remain unchecked except for the smallest of empty gestures, and when the trickle up economy has hardly seen a trickle, we search the horizon for answers. Sometimes it is hard not to feel like the big ocean liner we are on is the Titanic and all we see is an iceberg when we look ahead.


PickleBiz said...

It's not gonna happen. You're frustrated, I'm frustrated, but reality dictates that our capitalistic system will win... and remain capitalistic. I have to admit also that I'm not comfortable with the government dictating compensation. Capitalism and fairness have never been synonyms. I'll deal with it (under certain circumstances). The government will not be able to reign in the greed. It's not the American way. Its in our DNA. Look on the bright side - a few hundred billionaires, deserved or not, is not such a big deal when you consider that they are not putting their greed-gotten gains in mattresses or gold bars in their basements. That money is on deposit somewhere, filling out the assets of banks and institutions that will hopefully lend that money to businesses who want to expand and create jobs. Yes, it seems wrong to my sensibilities that the government bails out a bank and then the CEO gets a 200 million bonus, but the government did make money on those loans. Perhaps we should have charged more interest. The legislation we need more than executive pay regulation is loan legislation setting guidelines that banks must follow to lend money. End cash hoarding...establish percentages of their assets that must be available to lend, credit guidelines that once met dictate that a borrower can not be denied...stuff like that. I can overlook the few hundred billionaires...as long as their money remains accessable in the economy. That's where the administration can act in a meaningful way.

Robert said...

Now that is a well thought out response.

I do believe that the administration has made a show of this action as a way of demonstrating a new get tough policy with Wall Street. I would much prefer that regulations be enacted that give teeth to their words. The government, to be effective, must demonstrate resolve and concrete definable results of substance. It is the fluff that drives all of us crazy.

Jack said...

In 1972 Francis Ford Copola made a masterpiece of a movie based on the best selling novel by Mario Puzo entitled "The Godfather." As the film begins we see a totally black background and hear the very first line spoken by the character Amerigo Bonasera (which tranlates from Italian to: Good evening America):
"I believe in America."
Hopefully you can figure the rest out for yourself.