Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wall Street bonuses

Last week, American companies announced around 65,000 layoffs. I don't know exactly how much those folks were making, but let's pretend that it cost $100,000 (salary plus benefits) to employ each of these people. That's probably high for an average, but it'll do for a rough number. That totals $6.5 billion for a year. Meanwhile, in 2008, Wall Street awarded bonuses of $18.3 billion. $18.3 billion. That money could have instead employed all the folks laid off in the past three weeks for a full year. I sometimes tend to write off complaints about executive salaries and benefits, figuring it's really just a drop in the bucket and that the corporation is making a choice between greater profits for shareholders and paying its execs well. But in these times, the choice isn't between exec salaries and profits, it's between exec salaries and jobless families.

I like that Obama and McCaskill used their platforms to offer a scolding, but they need to recognize that the Bush bailout plan for which they voted didn't do a good job of procuring safeguards for the use of the money. The idiots here were not the execs; they're greedy, not stupid. Bush, Paulson and Congress, on the other hand, . . . (And just a reminder that both Obama and McCain supported the bailout bill, so there was no choice on that front in the 2008 election.)

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