Choosing Anger over Fear


I’m convinced that our intrepid media are more than marginally responsible for the economy’s continuing downward spiral. They delight in imparting everything, down to the tiniest, goriest detail; confident that we, the sensation-starved public, will gobble down every poisonous morsel and beg for more. And we do.

With that in mind, I’ve had to limit my exposure to those tainted offerings, lest I simply give up, lock the doors of the café, walk away and go live in my car—the one that has been paid for since 1985. Business is down, but we haven’t gone broke yet. Customers come in, food goes out, and the bills get paid on time. So it’s no good for me to start obsessing about all the gloom and doom the media are spreading around. Not yet, anyway.

And yet, despite my best efforts, one of those deadly stories will get to me every couple of days. And my best defense…is a good offense. I refuse to get scared. I choose to get pissed instead.

So, what did I choose to get pissed at this time? Well, I read the news about AIG using the second infusion of federal bailout money to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars in “bonuses.” I came upon this information via a long, involved story in the New York Times. Wherein I learned that AIG claims, and independent lawyers seem to confirm, that they “have no choice” but to pay out these bonuses.

Have no choice? Excuse me? On how many levels is this absolute horse puckey?

“We promised these bonuses back in 2008, before the economy tanked.” First of all, it has always been my understanding that bonuses are paid for good performance. Bonuses are paid to employees who have contributed above and beyond the call to increase a company’s profits. It can’t be news to you that not only has your company tanked, but it has taken a good portion of the American economy with it. Exactly what, then, have these guys done to rate a “bonus?” To the tune of several hundred million dollars? The very fact that the government has HAD to pump billions into AIG’s coffers should summarily disqualify any employee from receiving a “bonus.”

And if that federal bailout money did not have some kind of clear directives attached to it as to how it could be used, somebody REALLY screwed the pooch.

“We need to pay out these bonuses in order to retain our best employees.” Hello! Your “best” employees are responsible for one of the biggest economic disasters in the history of…economy. I personally would be telling them not to let the door hit them in the ass… And, by the by, where are they going to go? There’s a recession on, dipshits. No one is hiring. Bonuses or not, you’re very likely stuck with them. FIRE their butts. Or let them sue. DON’T GIVE THEM THE MONEY.

All I could think when I read that stupid article was, if someone is so convinced that this money HAS to go out, and they, in turn, have convinced the government that there is nothing they can do to stop it, we have bigger problems than just a broken economy. The rich (and don’t insult me by claiming that someone who receives a million dollar bonus is not rich) WILL have their money, if they have to snatch the last dollar out of the hands of a starving family to get it. Something is so fundamentally broken here that it’s going to take generations to fix. If it can be fixed at all.

And that…

THAT scares the hell out of me.


Go Ahead…Give It Back!

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First, we heard certain Republican governors whining that they “didn’t need” federal bailout money and planned on either giving it back or refusing it altogether. It seems one of the big sticking points was that in order to accept certain moneys, the states would have to amend their unemployment policies to include part-time workers. Oh, by all means…we can’t extend benefits to part-timers. We’ll just overlook the fact that some people have to work two or three part-time jobs in order to make ends meet, because our 21st century service-based economy does not have an adequate number of full-time, living wage jobs available. Those jobs—along with the factories and the mills—are all in Asia now…supporting the Chinese and Indian middle class.

The situation kind of reminds me of the joke about the drowning man who refused a life ring, a boat, and a helicopter because “God was going to save him.” When he ultimately drowned and arrived at the Pearly Gates, he asked God, “Why didn’t you save me?” And God said, “What do you mean? I sent you a life preserver, a boat and a helicopter…”

Now that we’ve got that bit of insanity out of our system, the banks have decided to get into the act. Today, I spied an article at The New York Times about banks—big and small—contriving to refuse or send back bailout money. It seems that the Obama administration has put “onerous” conditions on banks accepting federal bailout funds. Things like suspending evictions and offering distressed homeowners the opportunity to refinance. Things like requiring banks to allow shareholders to vote on executive compensation packages. Terrible, awful, reprehensible things to require of a bunch of rich ***holes standing in line with one hand out and the other with fingers crossed behind their backs.

The banks have become so enamored of their unencumbered, unrestricted, unregulated status that they just can’t allow themselves to be controlled in any way. They were all in favor of the “Give us the money and we’ll figure out how to use it” style of bailout. They were overjoyed to stand in line with their stack of bags at the ready to fill up and then stash somewhere that no one would ever see it again (probably in the Swiss bank accounts of their highest executives…)

But now…what? We’re going to try to tell them what they can do with the money? We’re going to try to hold them responsible? We’re going to try to coerce them into some kind of social accountability? Well, then they’ll just have to sputter and turn all red in the face and cry “Socialism! Government control! Ack! Ack!”

All this crap about “socialism” that’s being bandied about these days… I have to ask: Why is it that any time government steps in to try to benefit the poor—or, god forbid, the over-burdened, under-appreciated middle class—the right-wing blares the “S” word like an air-raid siren? What is so wrong with the idea of the government “of the people by the people” making sure the people get a fare shake from time to time? Why does it so infuriate the “haves” when the “have-nots” steal a tiny, cap-gun-sized pop of their thunder?

In the end, I have to wonder: if all these banks are standing in line to give the bailout money back, how much did they need it in the first place? Because I really can’t believe that they’re willing to face certain doom rather than accept money with “onerous” conditions attached to it, just on principle. How does the saying go? Fool me once ($800 billion in unregulated bailout money from the Bush Administration), shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me

Cross-posted from Women On…