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Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower
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Wall Street Is Dazed and Confused

Comment

Astonishingly, some Wall Streeters continue to be clueless about what the Occupy Wall Street movement is protesting. Yoo-hoo, Streeters: Note that the movement's name has the term "Wall Street" in it.

While there is a plethora of particular issues being raised by the protesters — from the corrupting power of corporate money in our elections to the demise of middle-class wages — the unifying theme is that each one adds to the rising tide of economic inequality that's enriching the most privileged few by knocking down America's workaday majority. And, Mr. and Ms. Streeter, guess who is the most powerful perpetrators of this greed-fueled disparity: Yes, you.

Perhaps an example would help you grasp the obvious. Even as the protest was spreading in mid-October to hundreds of cities, tone-deaf executives at Bank of America announced three moves:

One, to goose up their own extravagant pay, they're socking financially stressed debit-card users with a new $5 a month fee.

Second, they're dumping 30,000 of the bank's worker bees onto America's already swollen unemployment rolls. Goodbye, and good luck finding another job.

Third, two top executives who are departing the bank are being handed golden parachutes totaling $11 million.

In the midst of this, Steve Bartlett opened his mouth. A former Congress-critter who was promoted to be Wall Street's top Washington lobbyist, he is a perfect symbol of the infuriating corrupt coziness between financial elites and lawmakers. Yet Bartlett blithely says, "We (don't) see ourselves as the target (of the protests)."

After all, he explains, Wall Street "has to be well capitalized and well financed for the economy to recover."

Golly, Steve, I think we capitalized you extremely well. What part of the public's multitrillion-dollar bailout of the Street's elite did you not see? We the People see every glaring dime of it. And we also see that rather than helping our economy recover, you're now lobbying Congress to kill Wall Street reforms so banksters can grab even more at our expense.

Yet the most befuddled Wall Streeter of all is — big surprise — the richest guy.

In assessing the spreading public protest against the rampaging greed of today's corporate and financial elite, John Paulson turns out to be as confused as a goat on Astroturf. Oh, he gets it that the people's anger is directed at hedge fund profiteers like him, but he claims that riff-raff like us are simply confused on the virtue of accumulated wealth.

While it's true that he raked in nearly $5 billion in personal pay last year (the largest single haul in Wall Street history), and while it's true that his riches flow not from advances to benefit humanity, but from rigged Wall Street casino games, he asserts that it's the amassing of wealth itself that serves the public good.

It's unfair, Paulson scolds, that protesters demonstrated in front of his 28,000-square-foot, $15 million mansion on New York's Upper East Side, targeting him as an exemplar of plutocratic excess. Don't they know that billionaires like him pay taxes, "providing huge benefits to everyone in our city?" Besides, he points out that he's not merely a billionaire, but one of those "job creators," as Republican leaders prefer to call corporate chieftains these days.

Paulson brags that his hedge fund "has created over 100 high-paying jobs in New York City since its formation." Wow — 100 jobs in a city of over 8 million people. Thanks, John, our economy wouldn't be the same without you!

When it comes down to it, all that the Paulson-clique really wants is a little love — a small show of gratitude for all that the richest 1 percent is doing for us 99 percent of Americans by making themselves ever-richer.

"Instead of vilifying our most successful businesses," he wrote recently in a plaintive press release, "we should be supporting them and encouraging them."

See, protesters, you're gonna make John cry. You should be ashamed — except that he does have $15 billion in net worth to dry those tears.

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM



Comments

1 Comments | Post Comment
I thought your comment about the whopping 100 jobs that had been created by John Paulson in a city of 8 million pointed out a very stark fact. The elites don't give a damn about the 99% except when it come to how they can manipulate us. The Republicans in the US and all statehouse congresses have been bleating the same tired mantra for years. i.e. "We need to give the super-rich more and more tax-cuts and tax breaks so that they'll have the economic inspiration to create jobs." What a load of horse manure!!! They've received nearly 10 years of tax-cuts and tax breaks but we have an unemployment rate over 9%, WHERE ARE THE JOBS!!??.
In one sense I do agree, inspiration is needed. And nothing inspires like need. Need is inspiring the OWS folks. Need should also be inspiring all US and state representatives and senators. The trick is how to create that 'need'.
I get so tired of hearing senators and representatives of whichever level saying crap like, "I feel your pain." or balderdash like, "Creating jobs is 'job 1'." BS!!! To the first, I say, the pain you feel is likely from overeating rather than NOT eating. The pain you feel is more likely to be because a new pair of shoes that need to be broken in, rather than walking in shoes that have holes in the soles. The pain you feel is imaginary because you haven't missed a single check during the unemployment crisis. As to 'job creation being job 1', what a load! Job 1 for politicians is political posturing. Statesmanship is a lost art. The vast majority of the current crop of politicians prefer to look good in front of a camera as they recite mechanically what their 'base' has been convinced that they want to hear from the stooge they elected.
I think there's a way to create the ''need'' and create the pain and really make job creation 'job 1'. And it can only be done if the lawmakers are INSPIRED. Here's what we do, we draft legislation or a constitutional amendment which ties congressional branch compensation/benefits and office/personnel budgets to the unemployment rate. When the unemployment rate rises above 5% nationally, the compensation and benefits of senators, representatives, their staffs, the office expense budget drops by 50%. And it stays there until the unemployment rate drops below 5% and stays there for 6 months. If the unemployment rate rises above 7.5% then the above mentioned compensation and benefits drop by 75%. If the unemployment rate rises above 10% then the aforementioned government legislators and staffs' pay drops by 100%. Staff members can quit to find work elsewhere, but they cannot be fired, suspended or furloughed.
Here's a twist, the withheld pay is not simply being held in an escrow account to be given to the would have been recipients, when they've done what's right for 'WE, THE PEOPLE'. No, it's GONE!!! It could go into a fund to pay unemployment benefits for the truly unemployed, or it could go to pay down the national debt.
It will likely be asked why the staffs and office operating budgets need to be included in the compensation/benefits adjustments. Since many congress-critters are either independently wealthy or have enough financial wherewithal to hold out for a few months, the congress-critters need to have some of the hoi polloi hanging around as a constant reminder that though the congress-critters may not be feeling the 'pain' directly. they can be feeling the pain vicariously.
Such measures might be able to 'inspire' the congress-critters to do the jobs that they were elected do!

LV
Comment: #1
Posted by: Lee Veal
Wed Oct 19, 2011 11:46 PM
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