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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Inauguration Day Madman

February 5, 2009


A real bumper sticker, as sent by Pat Thompson:

"I'll hug your elephant... if you'll kiss my ass..."

Beating up the Fat Cats
(It's about time)

How will the CEO's of Big Finance, and other various highly-paid employee, get their big bucks back after President Obama's executive order limiting their compensation to $500,000 if they accept TARP funds? After all, there is a certain life-style which has to be maintained and one cannot possibly believe that they could do so on compensation merely ten-to-eleven times the median family income.

Why, that's inhumane!

It's too bad that the CEO's (and others) at Big Finance don't have to deal with what the tens of thousands who have lost their jobs in that industry (so far) have to deal with as a result of their (the CEO's and other higher-ups) greed-run-amok. It's too bad that, our of their new maximum compensation of half a million dollars, they don't have to pay for health care; or wonder how they're going to meet their mortgage; or their car payment. How are they going to pay for their chauffeurs?

Hey! Is the company limo and corporate jet included in the half-mil?

"We all need to take responsibility. And this includes executives at major financial firms who turned to the American people, hat in hand, when they were in trouble, even as they paid themselves their customary lavish bonuses,"
-President Obama

With a strike of his pen, President Obama has driven a dagger through the heart of those who screwed our nation's economy in the first place. It isn't so much about limiting the salaries and bonuses of these fat cats at a time when most of the rest of us are struggling; it's about appearances.

While former Senator Tom Daschle (DEMOCRAT-SD) had to remove himself from contention for the Health and Human Services Secretary job because of his misdeeds (oversight?), punishment has to be handed out to those who helped ruin our economy and put many of us out of work, publicly, so we (those same out of work Americans) know that our new leaders are serious about our nation's economic ills.

Still, half a million dollars buys a lot of fancy steak dinners and caviar, doesn't it?

The limit will, no doubt, be described by those on the Right as some sort of Socialist plot to tax and/ or punish those who make the most in our capitalist society. They'll say it's the first stop towards a political agenda leading to social programs at the expense of our "Freedom".

Don't buy the bull----.

In a nation where do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do still reigns supreme, the order to keep fat cats merely fat (as opposed to getting even fatter) is the right thing to do, especially in the face of all of those who have lost their jobs.

There are lesser fat cats who actually did play by the rules. The CEO's and higher-ups at smaller community banks, for example, aren't asking for TARP funds. The lure of a quick and easy dollar didn't blur their institutions horizon. They saw the economy for what is was and acted as if they were responsible for their institution's future liquidity. And, as a result, they get to keep their bigger salaries and maybe even a bonus or two.

Sometimes smaller is better.

If the Big Finance fat cats decide they would rather keep their millions instead of taking TARP funds, even at the expense of their bank or other finance institution going under, they'll be keeping it as their ships sink (if we are to believe their dire circumstances prognostications). Make no mistake about it: if the choice is one more big pay day in the tend of millions of dollars versus the jobs saved by their acquiescence, they will choose the former every time.

When the TARP fund was proposed, it was supposed to help save homes. More importantly, it was supposed to save jobs.

It didn't.

And whereas limiting the total compensation of Big Finance fat cats to a mere $500,000 is a good start, those who have caused this collapse need to lose more: their jobs.

Like those small business owners who had to shut their doors either because they couldn't get financing to keep their company going or because they mismanaged their own small venture, those in the world of Big Finance need to be removed from their lofty perches. We know they can't do the job so their loss is a no-brainer!

And as far as a few more people (the fat cats) losing their jobs go, I'm all for it.

-Noah Greenberg

In response to, "The 'FDR Failed' Myth," Pat Thompson writes:

FDR did not fail. There were people starving, children literally starving. My father was one of them. His mother died when he was 1, leaving 8 children. The father was an alcoholic. He worked in a mill, made little money, and could barely feed his children. My father stated that he didn't know what a full belly was until 1933 when FDR was elected. Vermont was a very poor and isolated state at that time. We are still discovering new things that were built by the WPA and the CCC. Besides wonderful highways like the Blue Ridge Parkway from Virginia through North Carolina, there are many parks, schools, buildings in National Parks that were built with labor from young men who had no other place to get work. Those "hobos" on the freight trains, riding from place to place, looking for work were reality. Even though the rate of pay for the WPA and CCC workers was $1 a day, they got room, meals and clothes, and learned a trade. The camps were run by the Army, so there was organization and discipline -- which came in handy when many of these same young men fought WWII -- and won a war on two fronts in 3 and a half years. The Princeton Arts Association Building, Washington School in Sayreville, Barkley Brook School in Monroe, and thousands of other schools of the same classic design all over the country were built in the 30's and are still being used today. Stone House on top of Mt. Mansfield was built by these workers. There are literally thousands of buildings, trails, roads and other projects that kept body and soul together for these young men, and allowed them to send money home to their families, and we are still using and enjoying these projects today. FDR did not fail. When the banks were failing during the Depression, banks could "call" in a home mortgage -- it was all due next month. Families lost their homes, in greater numbers than today, and not because they had missed a payment or it was a subprime loan. My other grandparents lost their home in Passaic due to the loan being called in -- "it's all due now". I learned about the Depression and FDR first hand from both of my parents and grandparents. I have since tried to read every book about FDR and that period of history. His decision to get a GI Bill passed, just before he died, changed America. All returning veterans could go to college on the GI Bill and we had a middle class of educated people within a very short period of time. And all veterans could get a loan to buy a house. I lived in a brand new cape cod house in 1950, thanks to FDR and the GI Bill. Hopefully, in 50 or 60 years people will tell stories about how their lives were changed by BHO -- our new president Barack Obama!

In response to, "In order for Obama to fund his socialist agenda, everybody has to pay their taxes and pick up the slack created when people who don't even pay taxes get a "tax refund," Denise writes:

To complain about people who get a refund that don't pay taxes is pretty selfish. These are hard working people that are usually working and barely making it because they are only getting minimum wage, unlike the very wealthy, who are barely paying their fair share because of the numerous tax loop holes available. The Democrats aren't saying only tax, tax, tax, they are just wanting to close the loopholes for the very wealthy who already get huge tax cuts from the Bushies and followers, and finally wanting the middle and lower class to get some breaks.

As for Obama's nominees with tax issues: at least he (Obama) admitted and apologized for his mistakes and has taken full responsibility for them, unlike the previous administration. The people spoke in the last election and I am an optimist that believes things are going to get better.

Finally, these huge corporations need to find other ways to cut their budgets rather than the first steps they take being slashing thousands of jobs. You have to have working people or you don't have consumers and it is time other things get axed instead of people at the lower end of the totem pole losing their jobs.

And Madman adds:

Denise left out this tid-bit: Everyone who gets a paycheck - even an unemployment check - has to pay Social Security insurance (federal withholding tax) on the first $100,000 of earned income. Those "earning" their money in the market (whenever that happens again) don't pay any withholding tax on that "income" much in the same way they don't pay any Withholding tax over the magic and arbitrary 100G mark.

That's the really infuriating part. -NG

And Victoria Brownworth responds:

Americans pay less in taxes than any other Western nation. That doesn't mean that we don't pay more taxes than many of us either want to or can afford. But taxes are what pay for everything--your trash being collected, your great aunt Millie on Medicare, the firemen and policemen who save our lives in emergencies, the schools most of our kids attend.

Those who whine about taxes are actually the people who want something for nothing, not the hard-scrabble poor and working class. Taxes are a necessary evil. Obama isn't raising taxes--he's just asking the rich to pay a fair share for once. That pretty much only bothers the rich. And it was George Bush who began the socialization of the banks--not Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. The idea that either Clinton or Obama is a socialist goes against reality. Much as the Republicans in Congress have been doing--going against reality. Alas a small percentage of Americans--very small--seems to be holding on to the same delusional fantasy.

In response to, "The National Republican Party has become the party of tax cuts," Pat Thompson writes:

that is all they have been since 1981. It wasn't working, was it? Do they really still get a say in how we clean up the Bush mess? Their policies contributed to, if not downright caused, the problems we are now facing. I don't think anyone should take them seriously. They had their turn, and they, in the words of Obama, "screwed up".

In response to, "It's just too bad that the big global corporations get away with this stuff every day," Pat Thompson writes:

Yes, but what the Republicans did was just so much worse. Like Bush contributor and buddy Kenny Lay of Enron, who wiped out his company, all of his employees pensions and their 40lk's in company stock, after they also lost their jobs, after the company used the tactic of rolling blackouts in California, before jacking up their rates. I still wonder if he staged his death. Or Cheney who is a much richer man now than when he became VP, having invested in private prisons to the tune of a profit of over $80 million, and all those no bid contracts for Halliburton where he still receives compensation. Now that is a bigger thing, and all those soldiers who eat moldy cheese sandwiches instead of good food, thanks to Halliburton's profit line. They took BIG, and hurt others badly. While Democrats aren't so essentially evil.

In response to Tom Daschle's removing himself from consideration for the HHS top spot, Anonymous writes:

Let's see if I understand this. Daschle was a member of the Senate that rooted out a number of Republican nominees who had cheated on their taxes. So, why did he think that his former colleagues on the right would ignore unpaid taxes in the six figure range? After they secured his defeat. My hunch, I have no evidence, is that Daschle really is wholly owned and operated by the health care industry, and tried to bluff his way into office in order to feather their nest - and his. He was a mentor to Obama in the Senate, and supported him during the campaign. Now, he sticks a knife in his back. Do you suppose if he had said, Mr. President, I need to let you know that, just to clean up the records, I paid back taxes of more than $100,000. But, I don't think it will affect confirmation. No wonder the Senate Democrats were so ineffectual when he was the leader. I think we are well rid of him.

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-Noah Greenberg