Pay me, pay me, pay me my money down

The story to date: bankers and financial fidgeters made a great many stupid reckless positively inebriated investments that depended on the ridiculous premise that real estate prices would go on inflating forever as if no living bankers had ever heard of such a thing as a bubble; to the astonishment of the experts, real estate prices suddenly stopped inflating and began to do the other thing with ever-increasing speed; trillions of dollars turned out never to have existed except in the imaginations of the ‘experts’; the US economy turned into a heap of rubble, and the economy of the rest of the world followed suit; the US government, guided by the savvy B-school president and his friend Hank Paulson, formerly of Lehman Brothers, one of the many burst bubbles littering the landscape, dumped $350 billion of public money into the banks with the promise of more where that came from and with no requirements for transparency or accountability or even telling anyone where all the money would go. Got that? Next act.

[E]mployees at financial companies in New York, the now-diminished world capital of capital, collected an estimated $18.4 billion in bonuses for the year. That was the sixth-largest haul on record, according to a report released Wednesday by the New York State comptroller.

That’s interesting, isn’t it? Employees at financial companies in New York are the very people who caused this global train wreck and the drastic impoverishment of millions, perhaps billions of people – and having brought off this feat of talent and dedication, they were rewarded with large bonuses by the very institutions that are being shored up by billions of public money (money which therefore cannot be spent on health insurance or education to name just two items). Rich, isn’t it? They’re financial wizards; that’s why they’re paid the Big Bucks; in their financial wizardry they make the global economy go pffffffffffffffffffft; so therefore accordingly as a result, they get some more of our money to make them that little bit richer and us that little bit poorer.

What could be fairer or more sensible than that?

That question is ironic. And yet, and yet…they don’t see it. They think they really have earned it, and deserve it, and should get it, and should go on getting it, and should not be told they should not get it.

“People come here because they want to work hard and get paid a lot for working hard,” one investment banker said Friday…“My bonus is ‘shameful’ — but I worked hard to get it,” said John Konstantinidis, a wholesale insurance broker.

They think they deserve it because they worked hard. I can think of a couple of problems with that right off the top of my head. One is that they are not the only people who work hard, yet very few people get the kind of bonuses that Wall Street hotshots get. The other is that one may work very hard in order to ruin everything, and it is not obvious why the mere working hard should merit truckloads of money.

“On Main Street, ‘bonus’ sounds like a gift,” he said. “But it’s part of the compensation structure of Wall Street. Say I’m a banker and I created $30 million. I should get a part of that.”

Say you’re a banker and you made $300 million dollars disappear – should you get a part of that?

Oh look, they’ve gone.

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