The old saying, "Your Tax Dollars At Work"
Read this story about the four and five-figure brunch parties that Wall Street types enjoy -- still. Read about the $1000 bottles of champagne that flow: At Saturday Brunches, the Bubbly Flows On, Even in Hard Times.
I'll skip straight to the punch line:
As for how he and his fellow Wall Streeters could still afford such afternoons, he said: "We all made so much money in the past five years, it doesn't matter."
A 29-year-old man who works for a large investment management firm and was at Bagatelle's brunch one recent Saturday and at Merkato 55's the next, put it another way: "If you'd asked me in October, I'd say it'd be a different situation, and I don't think I'd be here. Then the government gave us $10 billion." [emphasis added]
Let that sink in a while. Suckers.
When GM needed a loan the autoworkers in the factories were forced to take pay cuts. But when the "too big to fail" Wall Street firms that caused this mess got bailouts many times the size of what GM needed things were different. They continue to pay dividends, continue to pay huge bonuses, send out taxpayer dollars to pay off banks in other countries -- and they continue to spend millions on lobbying.
Now, think about this: companies like AIG are accountable to no one.
Robert Reich says that the bailouts demonstrate that our democracy is broken. In Robert Reich's Blog: The Real Scandal of AIG he writes,
The scandal is that even at this late date, even in a new administration dedicated to doing it all differently, Americans still have so little say over what is happening with our money.
[. . .] This sordid story of government helplessness in the face of massive taxpayer commitments illustrates better than anything to date why the government should take over any institution that's "too big to fail" and which has cost taxpayers dearly. Such institutions are no longer within the capitalist system because they are no longer accountable to the market. To whom should they be accountable? As long as taxpayers effectively own a large portion of them, they should be accountable to the government.
But if our very own Secretary of the Treasury doesn't even learn of the bonuses until months after AIG has decided to pay them, and cannot make stick his decision that they should not be paid, AIG is not even accountable to the government. That means AIG's executives -- using $170 billion of our money, so far -- are accountable to no one.
Reich also posted at Huffington Post, where he added a final line:
Our democracy is seriously broken.
Our democracy truly is broken. We, the People have no say and receive few benefits from our economy.
It is time to demand a return of control of our country to the people. We must stop all corporate lobbying. In fact we must stop all use of corporate funds for any purpose other than running the companies. And influencing the public to support tax cuts is not running the companies, it is improper use of corporate funds to benefit a few. This must stop.