Cynical Synapse

Tue, 27 Jan 2009

Rich Man, Poor Man, Liar Woman, Thief

Filed under: Bailout, Economy, Life, Politics, Profiteering — cynicalsynapse @ 10:07 pm

Most of us have heard that little limeric based on a British counting game. With a slight modification, it seems to fit some of the top news.

Rich Man

That would be financial whiz John Thain, former CEO of Merrill Lynch. This is the man who spent $1.2 million to renovate his office in late 2007. What could have been so drastically dysfunctional about his predecessor’s decor to justify that kind of expense? I realize the rich and powerful have their little quirks and can afford their little extravagances, but that money came from the bottom line. At the time, that was shareholder money. Now it’s taxpayer money.

John Thain alleges the economic times were better when he redecorated, but the fact remains he was at the helm of Merrill as the company sank further into the morass. When he was hired, Merrill already knew it had problems. He as much as says so when he blames Merrill’s losses on positions the company held before he took over in 2007. He claims Bank of America had “complete access to everything” but they must not think so, since they canned him last week.

Before Bank of America closed its purchase of Merrill Lynch, Thain accelerated bonuses to the tune of millions. His excuse? “If you dont pay your best people, you will destroy your franchise. Those best people can get jobs other places, they will leave.” Hello! Last time I checked, the entire financial industry was in ruins, so let them try to get jobs other places. And, truth be told, those so-called “best people” are responsible for this debacle!

Poor Man

All of us ordinary folk fit in here. With the ever-expanding wave of layoffs, those with jobs are fortunate, and those without are growing in number. Even so, those who created this mess are still in charge and doing what they were doing before. Pardon me, but those are the guys who should be looking for new jobs, not the layed off newspaper carriers or factory workers.

Liar Woman

Can you say “Secretary of State”? Hillary Rodham Clinton is such an obvious opportunist! I can’t believe New Yorkers elected her to a Senate seat, let alone she was an apparently serious contender for the Presidency! If she’s such a high caliber person, how could she have such a drastically different memory of her trip to Bosnia than the actual situation? During the campaign, this was supposed to be one of the things that set her apart from her competitors like, oh, say Barrack Obama. It set her apart for me because it was such a blatant falsehood!

There are others. Anderson Cooper notes Hillary seems to thrive on a facade of mistruths even if her intentions are good. I have absolutely no doubt that President George W. Bush’s intentions were nothing but good and what he considered were in the best interests of the US. But many of the same group who would point the blamethrower at him would also claim Hillary is the answer. I don’t mean to imply that President Bush was a liar. Rather, the point is, as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. In Ms. Clinton’s case, I don’t believe those good intentions have any moral backing.


If you didn’t already know this label was proudly worn by Timothy Geithner, you’ve probably not been paying any attention to the news. Besides being President of the New York Federal Reserve when the financial meltdown occurred, he has his own personal tax issues. Excuse me, but this is the guy President Obama nominated, and the Senate confirmed, to oversee the resuscitation of the US economy? Beginning with the next $350 billion in the Wall Street bailout? Something’s wrong here.

I have to admit, I’m impressed by some of President Obama’s early actions. Although not empirically validated, it seems like he’s been diligent in addressing some of his campaign promises. In my mind, that’s a significant departure from past practices. But it also begins to feel a little like it’s part of one of those “_-a-day” calendars—don’t peak at tomorrow to see what campaign promise will be kept next. But with a liar to fix the US image abroad and a taxt cheat to repair the economy, are our eggs in the wrong basket?

1 Comment

  1. While Thain’s behavior was execrable, I was greatly amused by James Pethokoukis’ defense of Thain: “This is the only evidence we have of any of that TARP money actually getting out into the real economy.”

    Comment by Everett — Fri, 30 Jan 2009 @ 9:18 pm

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