You may have noticed a slightly angry tone on this blog in recent days.
I can’t help it. I’m furious.
It’s not just that Wall Street greed (in the most negative, irresponsible sense) has catapulted the world into a depression (if it’s not here yet, it’s coming), it’s that there has been, to date, no repercussions. A few CEOs have stepped down. A few executives have missed bonuses.
But these actions should be expected when companies post losses of billions of dollars. Anyone (in my mind, this is not debatable) can manage in the boom times, but if your company collapses in the bad times, you are a bad manager and should be fired (and certainly receive no bonus or golden parachute).
No. What bothers me is that Congress somehow thinks they can get away with holding a few hearings. Obama thinks he can get away with a scolding. Cuomo thinks he can get away with a few threats and withheld bonuses.
But that is not enough. There must be serious, lesson-teaching punitive measures meted out to Wall Street. Many must go to jail. Lavish pay must be curbed. Bankers must lose their homes and wives. Their children must be forced to attend public school.
And it must happen on, in relative terms, a Maoist scale. Thousands must pay the price.
The reason for this is simple: They must pay because they are the architects of global suffering on a level that hasn’t been seen in a century (or longer).
Two more arguments:
a) gains are illusory – what I had two years ago, I no longer have – but bonuses are real.
b) bankers were paid obscenely when times were good and should suffer in inverse proportion when times are bad.
The bottom line is that it is truly an age of privatized profit and socialized losses, with “top talent” making out like bandits.
The reason why a man like Captain Sullenberger is such a champion to the people is because he is a man of ethics; a man of honor and responsibility who understood that his duty extended beyond the self.
Is there any banker in the world about whom we can say that?
In another age, these men (and a few women) would be strung up in the public square and burned.
Then the point, in many cases, was to allay a restive public; to give the people a show of blood and vengeance. We live in a more civilized age, but the need for catharsis lives on and grows stronger now.
The people want blood.
I want blood.
Who (and how many) will pay the harsh, public price for their malfeasance?