I find myself repeatedly asking myself: How did it ever get to this? It is not so much a question that finds its roots in ignorance or failure to proffer an answer, but, one that showcases overwhelming befuddlement and perplexity by the sheer nature of this crisis.
A year ago, American taxpayers had to fork out billions of dollars to prop up failed entities and others in the financial industry that were dangling on the precipice of disaster. And just this month, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase, two beneficiaries of this gracious act, announced quarterly profits of $3 billion and $3.6 billion respectively. And yes I did say profits; you know, the change the Big Boys get to pocket after all is said and done.
I’ve never been a communist, nor am I sold on the luxuries of capitalism, but I’m a believer of the precept that those who make an honest living are entitled to the benefits and privileges it affords. It’s only right after all. Therefore, in times past, the fact that the above mentioned companies made such insane amounts of money would have easily gotten a measure of goodwill from me.
Or maybe in some twisted way they silently do, and just for the life of me can’t understand why taxpayers everywhere are still being held hostage.
If prior to 2001, Democratic and Republican administrations sold the bodies of taxpayers to the demons on Wall Street, G. W. Bush made sure to add their souls to the package once he became president.
With excessive tax-breaks for the rich and powerful, further deregulation of the financial markets, positioning of incompetent watchmen (or wolves) at the gateway, the former president made sure there was nothing left the taxpayer could barter with save the ballot.
At the height of the mayhem of the past year, we were told some entities were too big to fail. And amid heavy and rapid loss of jobs across the land, we coalesced and were forced to feed the monster that has us bound, with billions of dollars in bailout money. All in the hopes of being unshackled once the beast was in some way satiated.
In lieu, we overfed the monster by merging corporations into already powerful corporations, further making them too, too big to fail. Some will say we had no choice, and maybe in truth we did not. But one would have hoped that once disaster was averted, a speedy and efficient process of checks and balances would be worked into the system. A year later, nothing has changed on Wall Street – just fewer players with the same hunger for greed and perverseness and no referee anywhere in sight on the playground.
Just this past week, Kenneth Feinberg, the pay czar appointed by the president to curb excessive executive pay on Wall Street announced a plan that will cut average salaries for the top 25 executives at seven companies by 90% starting in November.
While this is a welcomed step, it falls far below expectations and stands acutely myopic and unsound in its reasoning. These seven companies were not the only ones to receive “extraordinary” help from taxpayers, virtually every entity in the system did.
So it is very ridiculous that corporations that profited from taxpayers are now being let off the hook to continue in their marauding ways when just a year ago they depended on taxpayers for life-support.
Goldman Sachs for example, a recipient of such proposed lack of supervision, has set aside $16.7 billion for compensation this year. That’s a staggering amount of over $500,000.00 per employee from a company which continues to receive $28 billion in debt subsidies from taxpayers.
We can no longer continue down this unforgiving path: it’s untenable just as much as it’s wicked and callous toward low-income and middle-income families that continue to be held hostage in this crisis. This is no longer a crisis of will, but a crisis of conscience.
No corporation should ever hold the state to ransom. Plain and simple. It is ever more evident today that we cannot trust the empty suits on Wall Street to police their own immoralities, and neither can we continue to give up our calves to feed these wolves every time they come prowling.
President Obama, you have promised heaven and earth to amend this wrong and free us from the grips of this savage beast. We well understand politics and Wall Street have to dine together, and campaign donations have to come in from the very beast you seek to free us from. But at what cost should the status quo continue, Mr. President? Is it when unemployment is currently teetering at 10%?
We want to know if you are the Messiah we’ve been waiting for. Or should we look toward 2012 and beyond, when a savior might come to free our souls and bodies from this bondage?