That’s Where the Money Is

It seems that there are two ways to rob a bank; one of which is awfully difficult and scary and might even land one in either jail or the morgue; the other, far better one is a lot easier, cleaner, more profitable, and carries no discernible consequences, and has therefore skyrocketed ahead in both popularity, and as you might imagine, the size of the haul.  The tired, old, blue collar way, so dangerous and exhausting both physically and legally, has been utterly discredited and completely eclipsed by the new, modern way, which never requires its practitioners to take such foolish risks.  It’s called the bonus.

Now, those of you so old-fashioned as to think that bonuses are a way to reward excellence, and that a fat check at the end of the quarter represents hard, successful work and gives back a portion of the company’s profits to those who helped earn them are laboring under a “quaint” notion that simply doesn’t apply in the new century.  You see, bonuses are no longer a portion of profits, they are, if not just all of the profits, but now are two or three times the profits, an astounding cost deemed necessary to reward “talent,” which has now been redefined to mean “an ability to enrich oneself for utter failure,” and boy, are these people talented.

CBS News released a report of the bonuses received by the welfare queens of the banking world, and I wish I could muster some surprise over it.  Thanks to TARP, some banks that should, in a rational world,  have been shut down and their principals tossed in federal penitentiaries, had to, no doubt grudgingly, release some figures about how they disbursed funds to their “talent,” and the staggering numbers fade to insignificance as one sees the blatantly obvious thievery involved, as a strapped and struggling America watches its political elite react with utter indifference while a few pathological individuals simply dump the cash drawers down their pants and thumb their noses at everyone, including the federal taxpayer, that they’ve fleeced. 

Goldman Sachs “made” $2.3 billion in “profits” last year, a number which only required a little $10 billion float from Uncle Sam, but for that brilliant performance, a lot of talented people were handed $4.8 billion.  Sounds fair to me.  Don’t all businesses immediately spend more than twice what they claim to have made when they had to borrow twice that to get there?  Morgan Stanley was even more concerned about winning the talent portion of the beauty contest (since they can “afford” to hire the recently available Carrie Prejean to do the swimsuit part, if they’re so inclined), so they went ahead and used their $10 billion in TARP funds to pay out $4.475 billion on “profits” of $1.7 billion.  JPMorganChase was slightly more niggardly, or perhaps bashful about their astounding $25 billion handout from the taxpayers, sheepishly doling out a mere $8.69 billion on $5.6 billion in, again, probably fake profits.  Citi and Merrill, who must have the most talented people of all, together lost $54 billion, even with $55 billion from TARP, but managed to find $9 billion, apparently in the sofa cushions, to hand out for a job well done.  If Bush were still in office, they’d probably have gotten a Medal of Freedom, too.  Other, smaller banks were so chickenhearted and disrespectful of talent that they merely gave away the lion’s share of their “profits,” perhaps so they could buy some plants to put where their employees used to be, but clearly their shareholders weren’t robbed quite so nakedly, but were robbed nonetheless.

Bonnie and Clyde would be so jealous; they went about this whole thing the wrong way.

19 Comments

  1. Karen M says:

    Tony: Don’t you think there is an odd disparity between the GOP’s adoration of the 2nd amendment and their toeing the line on the rule of law when it comes to robbing banks with guns, as opposed to using the “bonus.” [sic]

  2. cocktailhag says:

    Of course. It’s that old two-tiered system of justice again. Ken Lay was Bush’s biggest donor, after all. The whole “Tuff on crime” thing was just another ruse for the rubes. IOKIYAR translated into “It’s OK if you’re wearing a thousand dollar suit.”

  3. rmp says:

    The really said thing, other than an attempt to limit bonuses, the more serious crimes aren’t being pursued. If Eliot Spitzer hadn’t been such a whore dunce and well could have been set up, there would be someone serious about building criminal cases where a lot of the criminals did their finest work.

    With our great justice system, someone who sells marijuana can get serious jail time and someone who ruins hundreds of thousands of lives just keeps raking in the dough. The two tiers are so far apart that it is hard to see the one on top.

    • cocktailhag says:

      But RMP, they have to do this to keep their “talent.” At least Spitzer, an aficionado of “talent,” himself, paid for it honestly.

      • rmp says:

        Well Mr. Clean Andrew Como made a report that’s sure to scare these guys into nicer crime, especially the title: “NO RHYME OR REASON: The Heads I Win, Tails You Lose I Bank Bonus Culture,”

        TARP Bank Bonuses: Who Cashed In Last Year
        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/30/tarp-bank-bonuses-who-cas_n_248097.html

        • cocktailhag says:

          Isn’t that infuriating? Sheesh. These guys don’t even try to hide it anymore.
          As an aside, I once met Andrew Cuomo in an elevator leaving a party in NY, and my sister audaciously made introductions. He was completely guileless and pleasant, and we even talked for several minutes in the lobby. and in those days he was also quite handsome, too, and tall. I wonder if he’s tall all over.
          Good for him either way.

  4. cocktailhag says:

    Wow. That tart is something else, and the video is pretty cool, too. I’m sure if the Heel were to weigh in he’d agree. Rebecca (Tina)’s brother is married to Colleen Fitzpatrick, of Eve’s Plum and later Vitamin C, fame, and she appeared on a magazine cover with Beyonce once, introducing 3 hot new girl singers. I think only Beyonce ever hit the big time.

  5. BobV says:

    I think Bonnie and Clyde would be envious, not jealous.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Fine, Smarty. You are right, of course, but it’s been up so long I think I’ll still leave it. Nice empty condo story today, but my favorite part was the ending, “No one could have predicted..”
      If I hear that one more time….

  6. heru-ur says:

    It is called “crony capitalism” as is seem most easily by Americans in South American “banana republics” since we can hardly ever see the problems here. It is not, I repeat not, “free market capitalism” even though the elites like to call it that.

    I have a nit to pick. We do not have a two-tiered system of justice. We have a multi-tiered system of justice. It is far, far worse down here in “poor trash” land than you could realize.

    In a land with the “rule of law” all humans stand before the justice system equal. In a land where “who you are, or what tribe you belong to” counts more than anything, the poor stand no chance what so ever. There are almost an infinite variety of levels to our justice system.

    As one example, imagine the Professor Gates saga except the black man is a city worker with a couple of priors in his past. Would anyone care about him then? (well, except for me that is)

    • cocktailhag says:

      In that case, he probably would have wisely not been so uppity, and no beers at the White House would ever have been involved. What’s sad to me is that our polarizing and dimwitted media tried to turn Crowley into a teabagger, and Gates into Rev. Wright, and thus play the story as “cable catnip.” As usual, two real people reduced to caricatures for the TV audience.

      • heru-ur says:

        On a totally different topic. For several reasons I will likely not be able to visit here very much after next week. I would hate it if you thought it was anything you said or did not say. It is just best that way; I have nothing but high regards for you — even when you are wrong. =:-)

        • cocktailhag says:

          I’m sorry to hear that, Heru. You know I always appreciate your comments. I did an interview today, and will be posting it soon. I hope everything’s ok.

  7. The Heel says:

    The tart in the above clip is tasty. Reminds me of my Brazilian Drama-Trophy-Exwife :)
    Anyway, good article as usual but one major misunderstanding on your side, I am afraid.
    These banks don’t “borrow” the taxpayers money. Borrowing includes the honest intent to give back at one point. Borrowing is when I come to you and say “can I please borrow your car to run an errand” You have very high chances to get the car back and if I were to total it, the insurance company would likely give you the monetary equivalent. Hell, you have better chances of getting your pot back if I had to “borrow” a puff.

    With “Gecko Lane” (aka Wall Street) it is different. They have now educated Congress and the White House that they were too big to fail before 2009. After 2009, using the TARP funds to consolidate, they are beyond any question way too big to fail. They have learned that now they can TAKE (not borrow) taxpayers money at their discretion and pay it back or not. See if they decide to invest it in risky business schemes, designed by the brightest kids in the nation (who really should develop things like solar cells), they now and for ever will come to the government with a sarcastic smile, an open hand and a brief, yet demanding “You know the drill….” as they accept the next TARP (not tart) payment – much to the unwashed masses’ delight, because after all the world would come to an end if they were to refuse it.

    • cocktailhag says:

      That’s exactly it. Chase took the money and bought my bank, and now I never know what the balance is. Cash machine slips, and even telephone banking, never bear any resemblance to reality. I think it’s a scheme to collect overdraft fees.

      • The Heel says:

        my guess would be rather incompetence than conspiracy. Large firms are full of little Wienies afraid of making decisions. It hence takes forever to get certain things changed. I am not surprised they screw that up, too.
        If it is of condolence to you, German banks are following suit and decide to keep their TARP equivalent (near zero interest rate loans from the central bank) in spite of Billion Euro profits, as a nest egg they can fall back on, in case their mergers and acquisitions back fire….

  8. consuela says:

    you know the guillotine has been rusting far too long, maybe it’s time i go oil it up and give it a little spit shine. cake anyone?