Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Love thy neighbor: part II

I swiped these tid bits from Huffington Press in an article called; The Era of Not Getting It: The Marie Antoinettes of the Meltdown. Also from tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com and na article called John Thain's Top Ten Greatest Moments.

Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain, the poster child for the era of irresponsibility. The condemnation of his behavior is completely bipartisan (although we haven't heard yet what John McCain thinks of one of his biggest fundrasing bundlers).

The pinnacle of Thain's tone deafness, of course, was his over-the-top makeover of his office in early 2008, just as Merrill Lynch was already hemorrhaging money and preparing to lay off thousands of workers. So to soften the blow (on himself), he spent $1.2 million redecorating. Lowlights include $87,000 for an area rug, and $1,400 for a trashcan.

Area Rug: $87,784
Mahogany Pedestal Table: $25,713
19th Century Credenza: $68,179
Pendant Light Furniture: $19,751
4 Pairs of Curtains: $28,091
Pair of Guest Chairs: $87,784
George IV Chair: $18,468
6 Wall Sconces: $2,741
Parchment Waste Can: $1,405
Roman Shade Fabric: $10,967
Roman Shades: $7,315
Coffee Table: $5,852
Commode on Legs: $35,115

But Thain was far from done with not getting it. Cut to October 2008. Merrill Lynch, after teetering on the brink of failure during September, has just been acquired by Bank of America, in a deal brokered by the government and partially financed by taxpayers. Sleeping through this wakeup call, Thain decides that he deserves a $30 million to $40 million bonus.

Gateway Financial Holdings executives Ben Berry and David Twiddy, who received nearly $1 million in bonuses on the same day their bank received $80 million in bailout money.

Wells Fargo and State Street. Both financial institutions received bailout money ($25 billion for Wells Fargo, $2 billion for State Street), then turned around and increased the amount of money they spent lobbying the government in the last quarter of '08. Not a bad deal: we give them our money, which they use to pay lobbyists in an effort to get more of our money.

Citigroup, which received $45 billion in government bailout funds, and is about to take delivery on a new $50 million corporate jet that features a "plush interior with leather seats, sofas and a customizable entertainment center," as well as advanced temperature monitoring that contributes to a more comfortable passenger experience. Let them eat cake... while sitting on plush leather sofas!

In his Inaugural address, Obama defined what the New Era of Responsibility would entail: "A recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world."

It's astounding to any thinking individual that these captains of industry and finance could act in such a blatantly irresponsible and disconnected manner. How could anyone who is aware of the plight suffered by millions of Americans in these times who continue to pay taxes, accept tax dollar bailouts and then turn around and insult these same tax payers with these recreant acts of personal greed?

The question is; are these people even aware of what's happening? Sure, they hear the news and read the paper, maybe, but what chance do they have to really be aware. Let's face it, most of these people are folks who have never known anything but lavish lifestyle. Oh, I know, there are exceptions, like the poor ghetto kid who becomes a Wall Steet banker, but we're not talking about exceptions here. These are adults, who as kids grew up in rich suburban communities. Many of them around NYC like Westchester Co. and Long Island where the average price of a home might run $500,00 or $1 million. These guys and gals went off to the finest boarding schools and then into America's best colleges all without the slightest regard for what it cost or how they were going to pay for it. We aint talkin about guys like Wally Morris who grew up down the creek from here and had to work his way though the local state college and take out loans that left him in debt for the next 10 yrs after he finally graduated. These guys are the epitome of having been born with a silver spoon in their mouth, or, like their hero GWBush, were born on 3rd base and think they hit a homerun.
So how can people like this possibly have any empathy for folks like us? They've never had to work the kinds of jobs that we have. Even those of us who managed to rise above our lower or working class roots at some point probably worked in a ditch or some other sweating-in-the-sun-for-8-hrs job. Then when we finally got an education we had to work and scrape our way to get anywhere in a corporate culture that looked down on locally grown folks like us. . . but my resentments aside, there is no pathway for these corporate ivory tower dwellers to have any link or connection to the average citizen. Normal for them is penthouse suites and helicopter rides out to the family compound in the Hamptons. They don't pump their own gasoline or set foot in a grocery store. They stop by the local hardware store or even take the kids down to the local burger joint. They've got no clue, so can we hold them responsible for their actions? Should we feel hatred and distain for their callous acts?

I propose that we should not. They are products of their environment like anyone else. Can they help it if society has accepted them in their positions as being valid? Can they help it if there is no culture in their life that demands that they understand and have some experience in the real world? We as a society have let them get away with their life. Who's to blame for that?

I say we need to have the same compassion for them that we are appalled that they lack. I'm told that I should recognize my connection to all living things and especially to all human beings. At the core of our existence, we are all the same. We are born alike and will die alike. In the end we will all become rotting flesh, so I need to treat all human beings with compassion and a universal feeling of love.

When I begin condemning someone I need to feel the compassion and love for them that I am condemning them for not having.

Low carb veggie recipe:

Fry up a couple pieces of bacon then saute some onion (1/2 cup shredded) lightly in a pan. Remove both, chop the bacon and add to the onion. Clean out the pan but save some bacon grease. Shredd a cup or so of cabbage and start frying in some bacon grease and salt, pepper, garlic powder, celery seed to taste. When it's beginning to get translucent, but still crunchy, add the onions and bacon and a dash of vinegar. Mix it up good while frying for another minute or so then remove from heat.

Throw that down next to a good piece of meat and you've got a low carb meal and still get some veggies/roughage.


MacDaddy said...

Keep it goin, Sagacious!

Phoebe Fay said...

Is it okay if I feel compassion for them while still wishing them a quick trip to hell?

Seriously, it's not that hard to be aware of the world around you. I grew up in relative privilege, and I managed not to completely lose all awareness of the less fortunate in the world. It's just not that hard.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

I understand what you are saying Ms. Fay. Many of my good friends were raised with some level of privilege. You know, there are always exceptions on both sides. There are also different cultures in which people are raised.
If you're "rich" but went to public schools you might have a greater tendency to know how others live. If you are "rich" by the standards of those around you, but not living in penthouses and family compounds, you will also be less likely to be oblivious to others.
My sympathy is with those who have never had much exposure to the ways of us po' folk. Their only knowledge of commoners is what they might see on TV or the movies. They are truly deprived.
Regardless, I need to be more compassionate for those I feel distain toward. They are sick, deprived and pitiful people and need to be treated with the compassion and love I accuse them of not having.