Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

11.16 Scotland was first Industrialized Country to Run wholly on Wind in October

11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]

11.15  The long read:  The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]

11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]

11.15 Trump administration to cut air pollution from heavy-duty trucks

11.14 Backed by Ocasio-Cortez, Youth Climate Activists Arrested in Pelosi's Office Demanding Democrats Embrace 'Green New Deal'

11.13 What would a smog-free city look like?

11.13 Global report highlights Australia’s renewables potential amid mixed signals for coal

11.13 Interior department whistleblower: Ryan Zinke hollowed out the agency

11.12  This Land is Your Land:  The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.12 Planned Parenthood's new president warns of 'state of emergency' for women's health

11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.11 Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.11 Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt [behaving ignorantly again...]

News Media Matters

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

11.16 As 'Green New Deal' Demand Grows, Democrats Have Choice: Confront and Defeat Fossil Fuel Industry or Take Credit for 'Doomed' Planet [Two choices: Save life-on-Earth or help Republicans let it die?]

11.16 Trump’s latest interview shows a president who’s in way over his head

11.16 Why the political fight in Georgia is far from over

11.16 Florida judge sides with Democrats, giving thousands a second chance to fix their ballots

11.15 Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'íncremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]

11.15 Pentagon Officials Forced to Make Fewer Public Appearances to Avoid Provoking Trump [...by revealing Trump's huuuge ignorance]

11.15 REPUBLICANS USED A BILL ABOUT WOLVES TO AVOID A VOTE ON YEMEN WAR [if there are 'defense industry' profits to be made—including congress-critter insider-trading—and political 'donations' to be had, we mustn't stop killing innocent civilians!]

11.15 Big Oil v the planet is the fight of our lives. Democrats must choose a side

11.14 The Real Florida Recount Fraud

11.14 Telling NRA #ThisIsOurLane, Doctors' Photos Show Blood-Soaked Reality of America's Gun Madness

11.14 At Freshman Orientation, Young and Growing Progressive Caucus Makes Clear It Will 'Fight Like Hell' for Bold Democratic Agenda

Justice Matters
High Crimes?

11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]

Economics, Crony Capitalism

11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]

11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]

11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]

11.14 Brexit: May tells her cabinet, this is the deal – now back me

International & Futurism

11.15 Cuba to pull doctors out of Brazil after President-elect Bolsonaro comments [terms must be negotiated for fairness to Cuba's health professionals without disruption of healthcare for Brazil's poor]

11.14 'Appalling' Khashoggi audio shocked Saudi intelligence – Erdogan [Exposing a psychopath?]

11.14 Israel and Hamas launch hundreds of attacks in Gaza clash

11.14 Mueller seeking more details on Nigel Farage, key Russia inquiry target says

11.13 Austin's Fix for Homelessness: Tiny Houses, and Lots of Neighbors

11.13 Portugal Dared to Cast Aside Austerity. It’s Having a Major Revival.

11.13 Caravan marks one month on the road: ‘We keep on going, laughing or crying’

11.13 Letter Shows Einstein’s Prescient Concerns About ‘Dark Times’ in Germany

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  WPost Elitists Feel for Wall St. Brethren
Newspaper logo

MEDIA DEFENDS DESPICABLE CONDUCT:

WPost Elitists Feel for Wall St. Brethren

by Robert Parry
22 March 2009

One interesting trait of elitists is that they show remarkable class solidarity, often more so than people of lesser means. Which may help explain why the Washington Post’s editorial writers penned three editorials last week decrying the populist outrage over the AIG bonuses.

Yes, the Post gave a nod of understanding to why the American people are furious over the idea of giving $165 million in bonuses to executives in the American International Group’s financial products division after that bunch helped set in motion the economic catastrophe which is driving millions of people around the world out of their jobs and homes and into poverty and destitution.

Also, the bonus money comes from the U.S. taxpayers who were forced to pony up about $173 billion to prevent the insurance giant from collapsing and possibly wreaking more havoc.

The very idea that super-rich executives living in mansions and enjoying pleasures and perks beyond the comprehension of the rest of us must be, in essence, bribed to stay in their jobs to clean up the mess that they created goes beyond galling to being unpatriotic, almost treasonous.

At a time when the United States is involved in two wars – demanding extraordinary sacrifices from soldiers and their families – and when American autoworkers are reworking their contracts to reduce their pay and surrender benefits, what is one to make of pampered executives insisting on lucrative bonuses to get them to stay on to undo some of the damage they caused?

One might lock them in a room and make them watch the HBO movie, “Taking Chance,” a story of a Marine colonel (played by Kevin Bacon) accompanying the body of Chance Phelps, a young Marine killed in Iraq, home to his family in Dubois, Wyoming. What is so touching is how average Americans show heartfelt respect for Phelps’s sacrifice as they encounter his casket.

Or maybe the Wall Street bankers should watch the opening 20 minutes of “Saving Private Ryan” as U.S. soldiers come under withering German fire as they storm the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. One might hope that today's privileged elites might get a taste of what real sacrifice is, not just surrendering a million-dollar bonus. But probably not.

When I think of these "masters of the universe," I recall the $2 million birthday bash that Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski threw for his wife on the island of Sardinia. Tyco’s shareholders footed half the bill for the party that featured an ice sculpture of David with expensive vodka flowing out his penis and a birthday cake shaped like a woman’s breasts with sparklers on top.

Though Kozlowski did go to jail for looting his company, President Barack Obama is right when he says that the “dirty little secret” is that most of the recent financial gamesmanship was “perfectly legal.” Most of America’s hot-shot hedge-fund managers and Wall Street investment bankers operate in a world of either light regulation or little expectation of accountability.

In that sense, they are very much like the Washington Post’s neoconservative editorial writers who swallowed George W. Bush’s Iraq War deceptions whole, demeaned Americans who dared to challenge the lies, and suffered no consequences for being wrong. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “WPost Is a Neocon Propaganda Sheet.”]

Entitled Elites

If you’re part of the elites – whether on Wall Street or at the Washington Post – you’re apparently too big or at least too important to fail. You see yourself as part of a “meritocracy” that attended the right schools and knows so many of the right people. You’re entitled.

So, it should have come as no surprise when editorial-page editor Fred Hiatt and his team penned three separate editorials bemoaning the angry populism that greeted news of the AIG bonuses.

The first editorial on March 17, entitled “Bonus Blowback,” purported to share the public’s outrage but came down on the side of paying the bonuses. “We hope that the President is setting the stage to do whatever it takes to answer legitimate protests about AIG without adding to the existing dangers or jeopardizing the necessary rescues of the banking sector still to come,” the Post said.

The next day in an editorial called “The Big Bash,” the Post expressed stronger annoyance with the “’populist’ backlash” against the AIG bonuses. The Post wrote:

“No matter how morally satisfying, taking back bonuses now ... would probably accelerate the exodus [of AIG executives], with the likely effect that the country would lose much more money on AIG than it would otherwise. ...

“The relevant policy question here is not whether we feel like spending $165 million on bonuses; it is whether doing so will help wrap up the AIG rescue as cheaply and quickly as possible.”

By March 20, the Post editorialists were starting to fume, equating the irresponsibility of AIG’s risky bets on derivatives with the angry reaction from politicians and their constituents over the bonuses.

Defending the Bonuses

In an editorial entitled, “Washington Gone Wild,” the Post chastised Congress for trying to recoup the taxpayers’ money by imposing a 90 percent tax on bonuses at firms that took significant government bailout funds.

“By changing the terms of a deal months after it was entered into, Congress will show the government to be an unreliable partner, further draining confidence from the financial system and endangering long-term recovery,” the Post wrote, noting that “when then-Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. pressed many of those firms to take the funds last fall, government interference in their compensation systems was not part of the deal.”

The Post argued that it was time for politicians to show courage, stand up to angry voters, and defend the bonuses.

“Elected officials have a responsibility to lead, not just to pander; to weigh what makes sense for the country, not just what feels good,” the Post wrote. “The bonuses paid at AIG represent less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the bailout provided so far; recouping those funds will have no discernible fiscal effect.

“But it will help drive away the best talent at the firm, and despite all the glib messages of ‘good riddance,’ that is a strange action for an owner -- and the American public now owns AIG -- to take. But the real damage goes well beyond any effect on AIG.”

The Post said the American people must face up to the fact that Main Street can’t function without Wall Street:

“The economy continues to suffer from a shortage of credit. The government needs financial institutions -- including relatively healthy ones -- to take public funds that will then be lent to responsible businesses and consumers.”

The Post also wagged a finger at the White House.

“Rather than bringing reason to the debate, President Obama has stoked the anger,” the Post complained. “Perhaps Mr. Obama believes that only by lining up with an angry public now can he persuade it, and Congress, to approve the hundreds of billions more he will need to right the credit system.

“But he might have expressed his sympathy with public anger over irresponsible behavior in the financial sector while also steering the government in a more constructive direction. The absence of backbone on either end of Pennsylvania Avenue this week could carry a steep price.”

Taking on Friends

While the Post editors may have a point about political pandering, they might have directed more of their outrage at their fellow elitists on Wall Street, perhaps telling them that it’s way past time to recognize that their extravagance is a huge part of the problem.

For each multi-million-dollar bonus, for each lavish party, for each pricy commode, for each sleek corporate jet, for each luxury car snapped up by a 28-year-old hedge fund manager, that is money not going to build a new factory or finance vital research and development – which is, after all, why companies go to Wall Street, seeking funds to expand or to modernize.

Rather than respect its role in the American economy, it is Wall Street that has “gone wild.”

It has operated under the maxim: “the closer you are to the money, the more you get to keep.” That attitude is now engrained in the culture of the financial circles. These guys have convinced themselves that they are worth the tens of millions of dollars that they are sucking out of the productive economy.

As messy as outbursts of populism might be, they often are a necessary corrective to a system that has ceased to function as it was intended.

But the Post’s editors are too cozy with their brethren on Wall Street – they may share too much of what might be called a class interest – to understand how justifiably angry Americans are, furious at both the financiers who took the economy over the cliff and at the politicians and pundits who bogged the nation down in the bloody quagmire of Iraq.

Somehow, the United States must achieve accountability from all these sectors for their many sins of recent years. Not getting that accountability may be the biggest risk of all.


Robert ParryRobert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.

This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



Copyright © 2009 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on March 22, 2009.

 

Public Service Ads: