It must be out-and-out arrogance. It’s the only thing that explains the banking industry’s short-sightedness in continuing to award huge bonuses to their execs as the country struggles to get out from under what is being called a major recession but what feels like the second great depression.
The BBC has issued the following on JP Morgan/Chase, which is reporting profits of $3.3. billion in the last 3 months of 2009-
“JP Morgan’s 200,000 employees were paid a total of $27bn in salaries and bonuses over the year – an 18% increase on 2008 – though a figure for bonus payments alone was not given.
The $9.3bn earned by investment bankers was a 21% increase on the previous year.”
Back in the real world, the nation’s employers cut another 85,000 jobs in December. Here in Los Angeles, unemployment continues to run at something above 12%.
The homeless are on our streets in places homeless haven’t been seen before. At the same time, bankers seem determined to pass along huge rewards to their executives, even while the people who bailed them out continue to suffer. Are they beyond all reason? Do they have anyone left in their corporate ranks that understands the power of public opinion and the need for a public relations plan? Can’t they see that they’re setting themselves up to be hammered by a truckload of new federal regulations, a move the Democrats will be forced to take if they want to keep their hands on the reigns of power? Or has Wall Street pumped so much bribe money into the Congress, that we now have government of, by and for the corporations and a relative few very wealthy individuals sitting comfortably at the top of the economic ladder? A Congress that eagerly sends out our troop to protect corporate interests abroad while financial giants drain the income from taxpayers here at home with credit card usury and constantly changing fee schedules that would baffle even the most skilled flim-flam artist. A Congress and an FCC that turn a blind eye to the impact of media consolidation (80% of the tv market in the U.S. is now controlled by just 5 companies) while an increasingly weakened press fails to inform the American public that their elected representatives have been bought off?
There may be hope.
Eventually the debate over healthcare will end and the Congress will return to issues they were forced to set aside. The economy and jobs will be at the top of the list. Fixing the economy takes money. The banks have it and the question will be how it’s being used. Are they using it to help restore the economy, or are they playing scrooge and hoarding it away?
Here’s what Forbes has to say-
“Bankers have done the equivalent of stuffing the mattress in the last few months, despite being prodded by the government to lend the hundreds of billions in cash being pumped into the banking system by the Federal Reserve and other regulators.”
It feels as though we are heading for two societies. One, the safe and comfortable folk, consists of bankers, Wall Street execs, the health insurance and big pharma companies the agricultural conglomerates and a few other big-time players with big money to pump into Washington. For now, consider agriculture. There hasn’t been all that much talk about food, even though one of the first indicators that prices were about to shoot up was the global price of rice. Even before gasoline prices took off, the price of rice was shooting up, and no one went looking for an explanation as to why. Since then, food prices have continued jumping by double-digits. The numbers are shocking.
“Between March 2007 and March 2008, global food prices increased an average of 43 percent, according to the International Monetary Fund. During that time period, wheat, soybean, corn, and rice prices increased by 146 percent, 71 percent, 41 percent, and 29 percent, respectively, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”-USAID
If you work for an agriculture conglomerate or a health insurance company or one of the big banks, chances are you are cash fat, warm and comfortable. However, if you’re on the other side of the equation, left out of the corporate prosperity bubble, you are undoubtedly struggling daily to pay for gas, food, education and healthcare, while attempting to keep a roof over your head.
We are becoming two societies, the “haves” and the “have-nots,” and God help the “have-nots” because the “haves” like the big bankers, are increasingly showing that they do not care about people. They care only for the bottom line. Their arrogance and blindness are beyond belief and their stupidity is unbelievable because it has all happened before. Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, was the great “trust-buster” of the early 1900’s. FDR was forced to come back and hammer many of these same interests in the 30’s, and now somebody is going to have to do it again. The survival of America as we know it, as a place with a quality of life and a sense of decency and fairness that is the envy of much of the world, will depend upon it.
Healthcare reform is just the beginning.