Greed Control

January 28, 2009
  • “Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment. But you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area.
    There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus.”

    Agent Smith, The Matrix

(Illustration of ‘Victory of Greed‘ by Jan Patrik Krasny found here).

Only on special occasion the last couple of years has Maureen Dowd done anything to prick my ears, even on a basic literary level and some of her columns during the presidential campaign last year hinted at some kind of crude use of fairy-tale fantasy (although the West Wing piece was a good, interesting read, but it wasn’t from her), but her exercise today in the New York Times does her good, old justice.
In Dowd’s cross-hair is John Thain, Merrill Lynch head honcho who has joined the growing list of greed-layered entrepreneurs carrying the banner of free-enterprise — the list now includes, among a stadium-sized board room of others, Bernie Madoff, Hank Paulson, Al Greenspan, Ken Lay, with the apparent icon of the whole bunch — Gordon Gekko.

Financial greed is not just a US national problem, but a human trait.
This week Iceland’s government collapsed (did buildings fall, chaos?) as a forerunner to how avarice can be tolerated well beyond just the financial district — but not for long.
In 2007, less than two years ago, Iceland was one of the richest countries per capita on earth, though, everybody sort of wink-winked, nudge-nudged on how it came about, and so few questioned a system which appeared to bring so much prosperity.
And this financial total-global meltdown going on right now didn’t spring up overnight — in long-range historical terms, I guess it would be overnight, as mainly just in the last century of so has economies shifted from physical treasure such as gold, silver or land, to vapor, such as those so-called financial instruments, which didn’t move actual treasure around, but just paper.
And whole governments, along with corporations attached to those governments, pushed this allowance for greed into being — final nail in the mortgaged coffin was repeal of the Great-Depression era Glass-Steagall Act.

And so around to the above-mentioned Mr. John Thain, who yesterday sharply snagged a subpoena on his designer cufflinks from the New York state AG’s office wanting details of his company bonus program.
Dowd then whips in her comments.
First nailing another Wall Street greed-lover:

  • How could Citigroup be so dumb as to go ahead with plans to get a new $50 million corporate jet, the exclusive Dassault Falcon 7X seating 12, after losing $28.5 billion in the past 15 months and receiving $345 billion in government investments and guarantees?
    (Now I get why a $400 payment I recently sent to pay off my Citibank Visa was mistakenly applied to my sister-in-law’s Citibank Mastercard account.)

    The former masters of the universe don’t seem to fully comprehend that their universe has crumbled and, thanks to them, so has ours.
    Real people are losing real jobs at Caterpillar, Home Depot and Sprint Nextel; these and other companies announced on Monday that they would cut more than 75,000 jobs in the U.S. and around the world, as consumer confidence and home prices swan-dived.

Dowd makes real-good money and comes from a good-money family, so the “ours” expressed above has yet to reach her level, but I digress.

  • In an interview with Maria Bartiromo on CNBC, Thain used the specious, contemptible reasoning that other executives use to rationalize why they’re keeping their bonuses as profits are plunging.
    “If you don’t pay your best people, you will destroy your franchise” and they’ll go elsewhere, he said.
    They destroyed the franchise.
    Let’s call their bluff.
    Let’s see what a great job market it is for the geniuses of capitalism who lost $15 billion in three months and helped usher in socialism.

And with the infamous $1.2 million office re-deco job — Thain admits the greedy, opulent episode was a “mistake” — Dowd gets vengeful.

  • Bartiromo pressed: What was wrong with the office of his predecessor, Stanley O’Neal?
    “Well — his office was very different — than — the — the general décor of — Merrill’s offices,” Thain replied. “It really would have been — very difficult — for — me to use it in the form that it was in.”
    Did it have a desk and a phone?
    How are these ruthless, careless ghouls who murdered the economy still walking around (not to mention that sociopathic sadist Bernie Madoff?) — and not as perps?
    Bring on the shackles.
    Let the show trials begin.

Yes indeed.
Dowd, however, like many, many others are a bit scared of the word, “socialism,” because if implemented correctly would bring an end to even her social/professional world.
Which is greedy, too, like a virus.

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