I continue to be revolted by the scale of mendacity, hand-wringing, crocodile tears and ideological acrobatics coming from politicians, economists, billionaires and sections of the media about the economic crisis and the need for “bailouts”.
Lining up for food and water, Louisville, Kentucky, 1937. By Margaret Bourke-White/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images.
Who really needs a bailout? Well, according to the most recent Vanity Fair, it seems anyone one Wall Street forced to limp along on a base salary of less than $4 million a year. [VF has a great track-record on reporting the crisis – check it out]
There’s a certain obscene symmetry to capitalism. Those floating across the top like so much soapy scum often clean up while those sinking under debt and unemployment usually get cleaned out. It’s prompted me to do some creative accounting.
I think I have found a way to save the victims of the toxic debt fall out and get some moral justice karma happening for those who we should be holding accountable.
I have been thinking about this for a while and I think it’s time I offered some free (gratuitous) advice to Presidents, Prime Ministers and b(w)ankers, before things get out of hand.
So far the major banks on Wall Street, such as Merrill Lynch, have been given $125 billion dollars in tax-payer funded bailouts. That’s a lot of money and it’s not the only bag of cash on offer.
But $125 billion is a staggeringly big number. Let’s start with some smaller numbers.
When John Thain became CEO of investment bank Merrill Lynch in 2007 he got a $15 million signing-on fee. He’s since left the bank, which has been taken over by Bank of America.
At the other end of the social scale there’s Kathy Lovelace of Zephyrhills, Fla. She’s recently lost her job, now her bank wants to foreclose on her mortgage and repossess her $200,000 home.
Here’s an idea, why doesn’t John Thain pay off Ms Lovelace’s mortgage out of his signing on bonus. Let’s assume that Ms Lovelace owes her bank $175,000. If Mr Thain paid this he’d still have $14,825,000 of his sign-on fee. In fact, if Mr Thain had left his $15 million in a bank account for one year at 2% he would have earned around $300,000 in interest. So he’d still be in front of where he started and way out in front of Ms Lovelace.
I think we can apply this principle on a massive scale and save the houses of the poor working folk who are being kicked out of their homes because of the actions of men like Mr Thain. Here’s how it might work…
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