Monday, February 9, 2009

Week of 02/09/2009

I Can Live On $500,000 A Year!
– by David Matthews 2

There once was a guy that walked around wearing a chicken costume. He was handing out fliers to the nearby chicken restaurant, but he was rather dejected in doing it. Suddenly he stops what he’s doing, sits down at the street curb and starts crying. A passerby sees this and asks what is wrong.

The Chicken Guy says that he used to be a big-time stage actor. He played on all the best stages. He did Shakespeare in the Round. He performed for kings and queens and presidents one and all. Then one day his theatre troupe was bought out, and the new owners had different ideas of what the thespians should be doing. Instead of doing Shakespeare, they would be doing performance work. Instead of performing for kings and queens and presidents, they would be performing on smaller stages and using more glitz and lights and smoke and even pre-recorded techno music.

And through it all the Chicken Guy said that he and the others complained, but they did what they were told, because they were still paid the same.

But then he said that they asked him to perform wearing a pink bodysuit and tutu. It was then, he said, that he walked, because it was “beneath him” to do that, even though he was the only one that did.

Six months later, with his funds dried up and no more work for him, he found out that he wasn’t “beneath” doing anything to keep the bills paid. He said if given the choice, he would have much rather worn the pink tutu and gotten paid handsomely for doing it than to wear a chicken costume for minimum wage.

I bring this story up because it illustrates quite well the kind of economic situation that we are in and the great disconnect that exists between big corporations and the rest of the world.

I can only bring this to you as plainly as possible: the corporate executives, lenders, investors, and big money players have absolutely NO CLUE WHATSOEVER about what is going on! They don’t!

They think that this is all just business as usual. They think that driving a company to insolvency is okay because even if the company goes down and thousands of people are out of work, THEIR OWN money is okay. THEIR OWN packages are safe and secure.

Remember what happened to Enron and WorldCom? Sure you do, and so do the Wall Street elites! They all knew what was happening, and they’re using that to convince Washington that they can keep that scene from happening again. All they need is just a few billion here and a few billion there and everything will be okay again. It really won’t be okay, but they think that if they just say it a few dozen times that we’ll really start to believe it.

This is the sheer audacity of the big lenders: they spent all this time setting people up with loans that they knew would fail. They worked with realtors to convince as many people as they could to sign up with these loans. Then they sold these loans to other lenders, believing that when the time came, they would be fine because it wouldn’t be their problem anymore. And supposedly what did them in was that they were just TOO GOOD at doing this and they weren’t ready for the full weight of it all when the trap DID spring. AND THEN they come BEGGING to the federal government to give them a bailout, with money taken from the VERY PEOPLE that they have been fleecing all this time!

And not only do they EXPECT to get big stinking bailouts from us the struggling and fleeced taxpayers, but they also expect it with NO STRINGS ATTACHED! No questions, no conditions, no accountability, just give them the money and cross your fingers.

Unfortunately for them, WE ARE asking questions! Because while they’re getting bailout money from OUR tax dollars, we’re also hearing about their continued excesses. We’re hearing about the bonuses and perks that are going to the executives that are driving those businesses to the brink of insolvency. We’re hearing about posh weekend retreats at places that are so rich that we can’t even go NEAR them, much less enjoy. We’re hearing about stadium ownership and Super Bowl sponsorships and orders for new executive jets.

And now the White House is saying ENOUGH.

President Barack Obama has decided that companies that get bailout money should not be wasting it on bonuses and corporate perks. He has imposed a salary cap on those corporate executives. No bonuses and they can make no more than $500,000 a year base pay.

Wall Street executives, naturally, along with their conservative and neo-conservative friends in politics, are throwing 3-year old temper tantrums over this.

“YOU CAN’T DO THIS!” they scream. “You can’t tell US what kind of salary we can impose! WE NEED those bonuses and perks and salaries! WE DESERVE THEM! Why… why… why… if you IMPOSE those limits on us, then we won’t be able to retain the top talent! They’ll go to other companies that pay more!”

Okay let’s go over this for a minute…

First of all, if your company is in the toilet and you’re having to go to the government for a huge stinking bailout, and you’re the one running things when it DOES go to the toilet, then I would dare suggest that maybe YOU’RE NOT TOP TALENT!

It’s harsh, but it is the truth. “Top Talent” doesn’t drive a company to insolvency, begs the government to bail it out, and then buys expensive corporate jets. “Top Talent” doesn’t drive a company into the ground, forces thousands of people to be laid off, and then gets huge bonuses for doing it. That’s not “top talent”. That’s called INCOMPETENT TALENT!

Second, the decree issued by Obama only pertains to those businesses that are getting government bailout money. It’s not really a bailout as much as it is a buy-in. The federal government is essentially becoming part-owner of your business, and as such THEY get a say as to how that business is run.

Now you would think that if a company has a problem with the terms of that arrangement, then all they have to do is say NO to the bailout money. After all, THEY were the ones going to the government for money, not the other way around. If they don’t like the terms, then they should just decline the bailout money, pay back what was already given to them, and try to survive on their own. Sure the company would probably go into the toilet and all of the jobs would be gone, but at least the so-called “top talent” would still have their dignity intact!

There’s more, though.

These limitations would not even be suggested if not for the fact that these corporate executives were showing off their largesse while at the same time throwing thousands of hard-working Americans out of work and out of their homes. While they’re announcing big bonuses and lavish weekend retreats and huge corporate jets, they’re begging Washington to give them taxpayer money collected from the VERY PEOPLE that they have been fleecing! That goes way beyond adding insult to injury.

But perhaps a more pertinent question that must be asked is this…

Can you REALLY live on ONLY $500,000 a year?

Let’s get brutally honest here… I CAN! If I was offered that job and was told that I could ONLY make $500,000 a year, then I would EASILY find ways to live on ONLY that!

We have hard-working Americans that are being told that they have to make do with less money while they still have to put in the same amount of work. Hard-working Americans that are struggling to make ends meet, that have done nothing wrong, and yet they are only getting paid for 32 hours of work a week instead of 40. They’re worried about not making the mortgage payment, or not making the rent payment, or nor being able to put food on the table. They’re worried that their car or their home would be taken out from under them. They’re worried that this “temporary” setback will transform into a permanent layoff.

And you’re telling me that corporate executives, whose demonstrated mismanagement and gross incompetence actually rivals Congressional leadership, should somehow be IMMUNE to making those same kinds of sacrifices? I DON’T THINK SO!

$500,000 a year is still $100,000 more than what the President of the United States of America makes. The man that could single-handedly destroy the whole planet in an hour, and yet Wall Street elites think that they should be paid dozens of times more than him. I think that pretty much defines arrogance and pompousness right there.

Or perhaps it is because these Wall Street elites really have NO IDEA what it’s like to truly suffer and scrimp and save and try to make do with less. After all, if THEY fail, they really don’t lose as much as the hard-working Americans do. You don’t hear about people who make seven-figures who suddenly go on food stamps and unemployment benefits. You don’t hear about their mansions and BMWs being foreclosed and repossessed. I think that if they were forced to live on our incomes for a few years that they would have a better appreciation of that money.

By the way, it should be pointed out that the Americans on the OTHER end of the financial spectrum… the ones that have to live day-to-day making do and getting welfare from the government… are given conditions to that money. They are forced to undergo drug testing, document and justify their daily activities, and go through endless bureaucratic hoops just to get that money. Why should CORPORATE welfare recipients be treated any differently?

But that’s all just part of the great disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street. Wall Street has lived for so very long in a delusion bubble of their own creation, surrounded by like-minded people constantly prodding and promoting their own self-important greatness, that they cannot in any clear conscience understand what true struggling is like. And the only way that they can truly understand that is that much like that seasoned actor in the chicken costume, they have to be brought down to our level. They have to learn the hard way of what would be “beneath” them.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

I'm just glad Obama has some sense with the salary cap. If there was just some way to shove these Wall Street people to our side to see what their greed has done to us.