By Dave Lindorff
The people who pose as journalists in today’s corporate media are in awe and in love with the rich. How else to explain their fatuous praise for the likes of Warren Buffett, who on one hand bets $5 billion on Goldman Sachs shares, and on the other, posing as a disinterested wise man and patriot, publicly advises Congress to go along with Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s $700-$1-trillion bailout of Goldman and the rest of Wall Street?
Buffett, whatever else he is, is no fool. He looks at Goldman Sachs, its shares knocked for a loop by the current crisis, but about to become a merged entity—bank and investment bank combined—with government backing to unload its bad credit risks—and he buys $5 billion worth of it, and then turns around and tells Congress to step up and vote for a bailout which would double his money almost instantly.
What a guy! A true hero.
And then the corporate media praises the man for his “courage” and his “faith in the markets.”
But that’s only one guy. We also have the panic among Wall Street industry lobbyists, working overtime to make sure that nobody in Congress seriously tries to limit executive compensation in the financial sector. As one lobbyist put it today, “If you limit the amount a bank or investment bank can pay for talented people, they won’t be able to hire them.”
Wait a minute. Wasn’t America famous for the “work ethic” of its people? We’re always told that Americans want the “dignity” of a job, and that we Americans have this wonderful “work ethic.” Give us a job—any job—and, whatever the pay, we’ll buckle down and do it to the best of our ability.
That apparently doesn’t apply to the upper ranks of the banking elite, though. If they can “only” earn $400,000, instead of $40 million a year, they’re not going to lift a goddam finger.
Smart guys like John Thain, chief of Merrill Lynch, and Kenneth Lewis, head of Bank America, or Dick Fuld, head of now bankrupt Lehman Brothers, would never do a lick of work in the Wall Street mines if they could only earn a few hundred grand for their efforts. If that was all they could earn, they’d rather stay home and clip coupons.
There’s your “work ethic” for you.
I’m not so bothered by the sloth and greed of the Wall Street crowd. What bothers me is the respect they are treated with by the journalists covering them.
I mean, come on. These are just greedy people who got where they got because they went to the right schools, made the right connections, and checked their principles and morals at the door when they entered the building. Their sole motivation in life is making money—as much as they can possibly hoard.
The truth is it’s pretty easy to get rich if you’re willing to screw the public to do it, and it’s a pretty safe bet that that’s what’s been going on with Wall Street, especially over the last two decades of deregulated boom times.
DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback edition). His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net