Friday, April 2, 2010

MONEY FOR NOTHING and your perks for free.

Why do we allow financial executives to drive us into disaster after disaster without any consequences at all?

Train operators get reviled and fired for being asleep on the job – but financial gurus get rewarded for it. This is one of the new realities in the American meltdown. It is like Orwell – “Error is Talent” “Most for the most” “Mistake is profit” God, you could go one all night doing this – let me get to the point.

In July of 2009, the Washington DC transit authority made it a one strike you’re out offense to be texting while on the job. Needless to say sleeping on the job will also get you fired instantly. Funny how that works. In fact, the lowly bank teller would also lose their job the second their employer found them asleep at the desk. (Perhaps exhausted from the night job they have to work to pay their bills.)

All those who toil for a living are held to a code of conduct - some stricter, some more lenient. But apparently, there are those for who conduct and consequences have no relationship what so ever. The mega elite executives who control our economy in between lattes and fraternity handshakes sit at their burly walnut desks untroubled by such mortal annoyances.

I speak specifically of the Wall Street geniuses who engineered the latest US financial meltdown. Actually, I question if they deserve the term engineer. Piling up a house of cards until it falls over is a favorite pastime time of cretins and the insane. It is not engineering – that takes talent.

Every time anyone ever questioned or questions their grotesquely inflated salaries, the answer is always “that’s what it takes to keep people of that talent with the company” My question is simple and to the point. What talent are they referring to? In my experience anyone can destroy things and most everyone is capable of stealing. For it is destroying the productive capacity of the real economy and stealing money from the working class that are the only outstanding talents I can identify in our Wall Street leaders.

Their leveraged buy outs and shell game investments cost the American economy over $8,500,000,000,000. They caused the loss of millions of jobs. Destroyed retirement plans and brought great businesses into ruin and bankruptcy.

This was the result of their “talent” and their genius for business. They were supposed to be the stewards of our finances. We paid them millions of dollars to manage their growth and ensure their safety. What did we get – operators asleep at the wheel.

But were they terminated on the spot. Did security hover over them as they stuffed their personal items into a Gucci briefcase and headed to the executive elevator? – no. Oh no, these guys ducked under a little cover for a while. Robert Rubin, one of the great cheerleaders for deregulation, told us “nobody saw this coming”. They did not have to stay under cover for long. A brief flurry of congressional hearings and it was over. Within weeks of the sight of free market warriors and champions of free enterprise and capitalism running to congress for socialist bailouts, everything was back to normal.

The executives had brought in more money through bailouts than they ever had through actual financial work. AIG received a bailout that equaled over 400 years of their annual profit. Goldman Sachs completed its takeover of every government department having to do with money. Goldman and Morgan Stanley also got crowned as “banks” and given the key to the Federal Reserve vaults for endless supplies of free money.

Oh and of course, let’s not forget the bonuses. Despite having created unprecedented losses all over the globe, our heroes got their bonuses. In fact, in a year where they nearly halved the nation’s wealth, they got bonuses just slightly less than the best year in history.

So this is how it works apparently. If you are found to be asleep at the wheel of a bus wearing a bright blue polyester jumper with your name on it –you are reviled and terminated. If however, you are found asleep at the wheel of the economy wearing a navy blue Italian serge suit with a designer label – then all is forgiven and you get a bonus.

This my friends, is why America is in the middle of a meltdown of historic proportions. I would not count on a smooth ride in the years to come. Unless, of course, you have a chauffeur.

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