Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Yes. God Knows Some Very Stupid Things Were Done.

When the World Economic Forum convened at Davos in January of 2009, the mood was somber. Or at least it should have been. After all, these movers and shakers had been responsible for the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And many in attendance had been the recipients of the largest taxpayer bailouts in history. People who would normally scream against government interference, had not only welcomed it, but demanded it.

And despite this helping hand from taxpayers, Wall Street bankers still saw fit to pay themselves a record $140 billion in bonuses in 2009, even beating their 2007 record. Seems perverse, and yet there appeared to be little objection.

And many of the elite were determined to shake off any responsibility for the 2008 financial meltdown. Not just those on Wall Street, who directly engineered it, but also those in government, who dismantled the regulatory walls, or simply encouraged the culture of greed that brought it about. (1)

According to Julian Glover, who covered the event for the UK Guardian:
... few people here will admit to have done anything personally wrong. The boss of JP Morgan Chase, James Dimon, is an exception: "I take full blame, yes. God knows some very stupid things were done." But he can say that with the confidence of a survivor.

... There is no real sense of collective guilt, or serious consideration of what to do next, other than rebuild the world that has just been lost. Davos has the air of a crash inquiry into an airline that intends to keep on flying. One hero, alone among thousands, suggested that the bankers should simply be jailed until they give the money back. The problem with that is that most of them have no money to return. The ocean on which the global boom floated has evaporated.
Yes, pay the money back. What a novel idea, but not something that's likely to happen. In fact they continue to demand more and more tax dollars, so they can continue their reckless behaviour.

Canada was represented at Davos in 2009, by Stockwell Day and Jim Flaherty, who were chest thumping over our strong banking sector. But what they didn't mention was that Jim Flaherty had bailed out our banks to the tune of 150 billion dollars, by buying up on behalf of Canadian taxpayers, all the rotten paper.

And Canada's bankers were not immune to the disease of greed, because they took 8 billion dollars of that taxpayer handout, and gave it as bonuses to their executives. And with additional tax cuts, they handed out another 10 billion this year.

And while we may now own a bit of those banks, we are still being hit with enormous bank fees. No breaks for the unemployed. No job creation. Nothing. Just 150 billion dollars of our money, and more to come.

The 'Free Market' theory is failing us, especially when those who want to be left alone to regulate themselves, come to us with their hands out, whenever they get into trouble.

Enough is enough.


1. The Trouble With Billionaires, By Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks, Viking Canada, 2010, ISBN: 978-670-06419-9, Pg. 2

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