Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wall Street To Public: Thanks A Lot, Suckers.

In the fall of 2008, Hank Paulson, representing Goldman Sachs although technically acting as the Secretary of Treasury, took a short hand-written note from his friends on Wall Street to Congress that said, essentially: "Give us all the money or we'll blow the whole place up." Congress responded by giving Wall Street Billions of dollars, no strings attached.

What do I mean by no strings? The biggest financial institutions in this country were screaming that they were about to fail, to collapse, and that if they did they would take down every business, every person in the country, they would tear the whole place down with them. And, further, they claimed that unless the federal government gave Wall Street Billions of dollars in taxpayer money, they would throw the whole world into a long depression.

Okay. I think the correct answer would have been: See you in hell, boys. Or maybe throw them involuntarily into bankruptcy, appoint a bankruptcy trustee, determine and liquidate their assets or have the government take them over. Then we, the citizens, would own these big businesses. We would own Citibank. We would own Goldman Sachs. We would own AIG.

But that's not what Congress did. Instead, Congress said: Okay, here's the money. Go. Have a good time. At the time, as I recall, 70% of the public was adamantly opposed to the bail-out of Wall Street. Well, I guess we know who Congress represents -- the folks that pay the biggest bribes.

What could they have done? What kinds of restrictions would have been appropriate? First, kick every shareholder or owner out, tell them their interest is worth zero, and before Congress put one penny of taxpayer money into those predatory criminal institutions on Wall Street, the current owners would have to take a walk. The public would become the 100% owners of the busiesses. Why should working Americans give their money to bail out rich shareholders? No reason at all. But Congress didn't do that.

And another thing Congress should have done is to say: Okay, we'll loan you some money, but every person who works there is going to take a haircut. Your top person will earn $100,000, period, no stock options, no golden parachutes, no special benefits. No bonuses. But Congress didn't do that either.

And another thing Congress should have done is to say: Okay, we'll loan you some money to stay afloat. But no more speculation. No more gambling. No more committing fraud on the world. No more bundling lousy mortgages then selling them for amounts grossly in excess of their value, calling them Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) when they should have called them CRAP. Do you know how many hundreds of billions of dollars Wall Street and the big financial institutions stole from the public by selling bad mortgages and pretending they were good ones? Lots and lots and lots.

And another thing Congress should have done is to tell these crooks and liars that every penny we loan to them must be used only to loan to the public and clean up their own balance sheets. They can't take the money, for example, and go out and use the taxpayers' interest-free money to buy up their competitors and establish even a greater (worser) monopoly control of our country. But Congress didn't do that either.

So the same people who stole our money, shipped our jobs overseas, committed massive international fraud, looted their own businesses by stripping them bare and paying themselves hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses, those same people got an enormous taxpayer bailout, no strings attached. No bad deed goes unrewarded.

One of the results of the complete failure of the Obama administration to indict, prosecute, seize assets of the Wall Street criminals, one of the results of the decision of the Obama administration to pack the White House with Wall Street insiders and let them make all the financial decisions, is that everybody in this country has suffered terrible losses because of Wall Street -- everybody except the people on Wall Street. They got away with it, because nobody in the Obama administration is willing to stand up to them and take them down.

Wall Street insiders paid themselves $20 Billion in bonuses In 2009, one year after they defrauded the public in the Great Congressional Robbery of 2008. The Wall Street criminals must be looking out at all the poor citizens of this country, people buying rice and beans in bulk and terrified they're going to end up living in their cars, and they must be thinking: Thanks a lot, suckers.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Employees at Wall Street financial firms collected more than $20 billion in bonuses in 2009, the year after taxpayers bailed out the financial sector amid the economic meltdown, New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said Tuesday. The payouts were about 17 percent higher than the previous year's bonuses.

Total compensation at the largest securities firms grew beyond that figure and profits could surpass what he calls an unprecedented $55 billion last year, DiNapoli said. That's nearly three times Wall Street's record increase, a rate of growth that is boosted in part by the record losses in 2008 of nearly $43 billion, the Democrat said.

"Wall Street is vital to New York's economy, and the dollars generated by the industry help the state's bottom line," said DiNapoli. "But for most Americans, these huge bonuses are a bitter pill and hard to comprehend. ... Taxpayers bailed them out, and now they're back making money while many New York families are still struggling to make ends meet."

The projections would make the average bonus $124,850. In 2008, the average was $112,000, according to DiNapoli's office. For many of the biggest firms, total compensation was up 31 percent, while sector-wide the average was a 27 percent increase to over $340,000, DiNapoli's spokesman said.

Banks had been expected to hand out near-record compensation for last year's performance. Several banks earned huge profits in 2009, aided by billions in government bailout funds and a rebounding stock market.

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