Okay, all you naysayers who have been castigating the Occupy Wall Streeters for being a bunch of partiers with no real agenda. In what is the most damning evidence yet that Wall Street cares not one iota about what’s good for the country, or good for investors, a high ranking Goldman Sachs executive finally had enough and resigned with a written piece in the New York Times about what a stink hole these Wall Street firms have become.
Greg Smith wrote in his resignation piece that these firms have become a “toxic stew of greed” that has little resemblance to the illustrious past of a firm like Goldman Sachs, that once prided itself on helping people and serving as a firm that prided itself on making its clients interests the prime directive, and as a consequence, became the world’s premiere investment firm.
Smith writes, “I don’t know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client’s goals? Absolutely. Every day, in fact.”
This change in the culture of the way the financial firms work could have been something the 2008 crash cured, but because the government bailed out the firms and put very little restrictions on how the bailout money could be used, it instead reinforced the feeling these jerks who run these firms have that they can do anything they want, and the public be damned.
Further evidence of that is the fact that MF Global, the firm headed by that self-proclaimed financial genius Jon Corzine and which lost $1.6 billion of their investor’s money, has requested permission from the bankruptcy court handling its case to pay bonuses to the firm’s executives. Have these people no morals? One thing they certainly have is balls. It takes a lot of nerve to ask for bonuses after a performance that took money from farmers, ranchers, and business owners and made it disappear.
But that’s what these people think is perfectly acceptable. That’s why millions were paid out in bonuses from our money—the money we pay in taxes that was used to bail out these companies. They took a lot of it and gave it to themselves and their employees. Instead of being fired and thrown out on the street like they should have been, they were rewarded with millions, so they could go back to their mansions and keep living high on the hog while people were losing their jobs and homes thanks to their actions.
And before you start playing politics and blaming one political party or the other, be aware that it was President Bush who did the initial bailouts, and President Obama that continued it. This is something both parties are to blame for. Perhaps the millions that came back to them from the bailout money in the form of campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures had something to do with it. You think?
Now, I’m not suggesting that the government should have let these banks fail, and as a consequence have many people lose their pensions and retirement accounts. But any sane person would have put restrictions on the use of the bailout money. It should have gone strictly to the customers of these firms, and none of it to the executives. In fact, those executives should have been fired—not given large amounts of bonus money. When it was claimed that the business is so complicated they needed those people to stay, I would respond that you or I could have worked there and done just as good a job of ruining the economy as they did.
Another recent story revealed that some employees on Wall Street had their bonuses capped last year at $150,000. “It’s a bloodbath,” one Goldman Sachs employee told CNBC. “One girl was actually crying,” said another. Are they serious? People are struggling to not lose their homes and these people are crying over bonuses that are bigger than many people make in years of working.
Even David Stockman, the man who devised the “trickle down” economics for President Reagan, mentioned the issue in a recent interview. “The biggest danger to recovery is the Federal Reserve. Bernanke and company are trashing the world-wide value of the dollar, and attempting to bail out the banks by raping grandma’s savings account,” he said. “Massive amounts of money are being transferred from the small saver to the bonus pool of the banks.”
Even on college campuses some of the anger is starting to spill through. On average, 25 percent of Yale graduates go into finance or consulting. But the Yale students that attended a Morgan Stanley information session faced a group of students chanting things like “Give change a chance, don’t go into finance,” and “We’ve got talent, we’ve got smarts, but our careers are moved by our hearts.”
People are quick to criticize the Occupy Wall Streeters for protesting Wall Street because there seems to be no target that will actually do something about the issue. But the government has shown itself to be on the side of Wall Street, and the recipient of their financial largesse, as have local governments and even police departments. So where should one go to protest this obscene behavior that doesn’t seem to have changed after one of the worst financial disasters in history? There isn’t anywhere to go. So expressing this anger at these gatherings is the only outlet there is. Maybe the message is getting through, if only in little spurts here and there, such as the resigning Goldman Sachs executive or the Yale students. Hopefully there will be more of these small incidents of individuals actually caring about the big picture, about working people’s lives, and about the future of our country, rather than about lining their pockets with millions no matter what the consequences.