Tuesday, September 23, 2008

That Nasty Four-Letter Word!

It's a nasty four-letter word that none of us likes to use. Matter of fact, most of us never want to think about it. But it is a word that is always there, hovering in the background, pouncing when least expected. We are tormented with its unspoken presence in the media, our daily discussions with friends and family and in the workplace. The word of course is "FEAR". The idea of fear keeps us in place, like a deer caught in the headlights of a car, unable to move. What should we do? Where should we go? Will we be okay? This past year has been a period of increasing fear for many of us. First we read about subprime mortgages and how people were losing their homes. Then we saw the price of a barrel of oil go up to more than $145. Then we had the crisis with Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac seeming to bring ordinary people's mortgages to the brink and hurting home values. If this was not enough, we heard about three major investment banks going bust, with one being sold by the Federal Reserve for pennies on the dollar, another merging with a major bank and the third going bankrupt. Along with the investment banks we discovered the largest insurance company in the US was being taken over by the government! Fear! To say that this is unprecedented is not idle chatter. It has been compared to the period of the: "Great Depression" and the period just after WWII. Its root cause: greed! Not just plain old greed but a very high level of greed practiced by top executives of very large companies. It makes me MAD that we taxpayers are going to bail out companies who had the audacity to give their executives bonuses of $80 Million or more for their "stellar performance". I have no doubt that Congress, in which both political parties allowed this to go on, will do what they need to do to bring liquidity and an attempt at stability and oversight to the business community. Eventually we will all go back to our "normal lives" and this crisis will pass and be forgotten. The problem is that the solution seems to say to those large companies that took big risks and some of those individuals who took big risks, “we will not let you suffer the consequences.” For the majority of us who have been paying our taxes, doing things "the right way" we now have the privilege to aid those who pursued their greed. I'd like to see the US Government go back to the Chief Executives of Citi Bank, Merrill Lynch, AIG and others and collect back those big outlandish bonuses and terminate those lucrative pensions and give the money back to the taxpayers! Some have FEAR on this occasion. I am just MAD! I do not think we are a greedy society but a society that has some very greedy people who are in a position to hurt our society!