Monday, March 23, 2009

Corporate bailouts

The commotion around the AIG scandal, bank bailouts, Madoff is way too much drama! Of course companies are going to look at ways to maximize their profits. The media, overly corporate as it is, usually goes along with the game. AIG found ways to give out bonuses. Ok, the government response then is to tax the bonuses and fine touch bailout agreements. The Obama administration is responding appropriately. The nitpicking is usual game playing. The Madoff fraud is what it is and plenty of people went along with it. The American mantra has been leave business alone for 20 years, since the Reagan years. It was all vodoo but Americans got increased credit, more commodities, and jingoisim. Who had credit cards in the 1970s? Furthermore, the Madoff situation was set up so that Madoff pleaded guilty to fraud so that the "victims" could get some restitution. I would like restitution for my 401k. CNN, MSNBC, the networks have routinely played invest, put money in that 401k, the market provides the best returns....

Obama's big issue is to juggle the interests of the oligarchs who control credit, find ways that the financial institutions can do profitable risk, and create real regulation. There has never been a free market, it is a myth. The housing subprime problem happened because the Bush administration saw home ownership as the best opportunity for Americans and the financial companies found ways to maximize their earnings. The bubble was always seen as a gonna burst but no one pays attention to the doomsayers. Capitalism is built on boom/bust. We are now in the bust and the challenge is to figure out the next boom. I have lived thru 6 of these busts in my adult life.

In my life, I have known many wealthy people, very few who voted Republican, and most in favor of fair taxation. The loudmouths have been those making middle class wages, often civil servants, or independent contractors always whining about their sacrifices in not making the big bucks. Most have had few social skills, limited intelligence, grasping, jealous natures. Of course, plenty of those with wealth who vote Republican but Conservatives generally give more in charity donations than most social workers, teachers, therapists.

General thoughts from thinking about the photo posted. I was fortunate to do community affairs for 9 years thru a corporation. In general, I worked with the best spirits of people. They would donate blood, or show up for a walkathon, give to United Way, mentor. It was the spirit of corporate social responsibility. It was my best paying job, with the least amount of workplace drama. Being in NYC there was also diversity having bosses, always senior Vice Presidents, of all colors, genders, orientations, social backgrounds. One of my bosses allowed me to do AIDS education, training on lgbt issues which I wrote up and presented at a 1988 social work conference. At the conference social workers were bewildered as to the purpose of education as most still treated people as psychological cases. One of my bosses, a senior Vice President, brought me to a NAACP convention in NYC, to visit her old beau, the Governor of Virginia, before New Jersey had its first African American congressmember. Another employee, who is now among the 100 most influential bankers in the world routinely gave to the GMHC and other groups (she would privately join me in sending a check).

They made money but also contributed to the real lives of others. Just a bit of nuance to this current bust in the capitalist cycle. As usual, I trust President Obama who is a realist and has a tough job juggling the consitutencies in our world.

peace, hugs, compassion


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