Europe Moves to Penalize Those Responsible for Financial Crisis While America Continues to do Nothing

Generally, we are taught when someone does something wrong, they are penalized for their bad actions in some way, whether put into timeout as a child, given a failing grade for a lack of work in school, fired from a job for not showing up, or thrown in prison for violating the law.  Europe is doing just that when it comes to going after the powers responsible for the financial crisis the world is still pulling itself out of nearly five years later.

The CSM reports:

Last week the European Parliament and the European Union Commission agreed on rules which would see bankers’ bonuses capped at a year’s salary, only with explicit approval from shareholders this amount can rise to two years’ pay. It is this deal the finance ministers now have to vote on.

In a separate development, Switzerland, which is not part of the EU, held a referendum on March 3 which brought a resounding approval for limiting executive pay and banning payouts to new and departing managers.

Banning payouts to departing managers?  You mean, they actually think a CEO who runs a company into the ground doesn’t deserve millions of dollars in severance pay and compensation when fired?  Oh, those crazy Europeans and their rational thinking!

The ultimate point here is Europe has decided it’s best to learn from its mistakes and try to do what it can to avoid another economic catastrophe.  And as these policies show, they aren’t concerned about going after what we call in the United States the “job creators”.  They understand their countries are better off in the long run with the right regulations in place to fight income inequality and aren’t swayed by the propaganda machine these corporations release on society in order to keep their CEOs absurdly compensated regardless of whether they are successful or not.

And America is, of course, following the same path by passing laws that regulate what led to the crisis in 2008 and making sure our financial future is secure from this same type of crash.  The members of our great Congress are standing up to these folks at the top and are telling them we will not let you gamble and bet on losing scenarios just so you can make ridiculous profits at the expense of the majority of the population in which these Congresspersons serve.  They are doing their patriotic…what’s that?  They’ve done nothing?  This stuff is just going to happen again?  Fantastic.

In fact, not only is Congress doing virtually nothing to avoid another crisis, we are all standing by and watching corporate profits soar to new heights.  This article in the NYT says it all and is hard to swallow considering the employment climate the country continues to wallow in.  Some vomit inducing points from the article worth quoting at length:

With millions still out of work, companies face little pressure to raise salaries, while productivity gains allow them to increase sales without adding workers…But although experts estimate that sequestration could cost the country about 700,000 jobs, Wall Street does not expect the cuts to substantially reduce corporate profits.

As a percentage of national income, corporate profits stood at 14.2 percent in the third quarter of 2012, the largest share at any time since 1950, while the portion of income that went to employees was 61.7 percent, near its lowest point since 1966.

Corporate earnings have risen at an annualized rate of 20.1 percent since the end of 2008, he said, but disposable income inched ahead by 1.4 percent annually over the same period, after adjusting for inflation.

“There hasn’t been a period in the last 50 years where these trends have been so pronounced,” Mr. Maki said.

So, remember the fight over those tax increases on the wealthy the country just had?  Yep, those guys are going to be just fine it seems.  In fact, I’m pretty sure those folks making over 400k a year could give plenty more and still be eating well.

It is rather amazing we can see these facts as a whole and still somehow believe the propaganda about how we can’t hurt the “job creators”.  Considering a little thing called reality, there is a question that needs to be asked here and now to those against the higher taxes on these folks.  If we are seeing these profits at record highs, where are the jobs they are supposedly creating?  Do they require even more money to create jobs?  Are these profits and this level of economic inequality not enough yet?  Do things need to be even more unequal?  Seriously?

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, there was one last ironic knife in the throat at the end of the NYT article.  Know how those same people who were against the tax increases also want to do away with the Fed and want no outside intervention in the economy from any type of government entity?  Well, it seems the Fed helped those same people:

The Federal Reserve has also played a crucial role in propelling the stock market higher, economists and strategists say, even if that was not the intent of policy makers. The Fed has made reducing unemployment a top priority, but in practice its policy of keeping rates very low and buying up the safest assets to stimulate the economy means investors are willing to take on more risk in search of better returns, hence the buoyancy on Wall Street amid the austerity in Washington and gloom on Main Street.

Of the broader market’s 13 percent rise in 2012, about half was a result of the Fed’s actions, Mr. Harris of Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimates.

In other words, the government, the entity the people should turn to when they are being screwed by big corporations, has continued to help those corporations while doing nothing for the people or to protect the majority of the population from further recessions induced by bad behavior.  When we are being deprived by the corporate world and the government is standing by watching this occur, who exactly do we turn to?

Europe clearly knows how this should work.  America (particularly the right wing), however, still doesn’t get it.

Where Did It All Go?

Fed: Americans’ wealth dropped 40 percent – The Washington Post.

The article speaks for itself.  I wonder where all that money went?  Did it just disappear?  Or maybe…it’s here!  “Trickle-down economics”, continuing its failure to the cheers of so many it’s failing!

To the Shock of No One, CEO Pay Hits Record Highs Again

The Associated Press reported on the pay of CEOs last year and as expected their pay has continued to increase at levels higher than the pay of everyone else.  CEO pay increased by over 6 percent while the pay of the average worker increased by only 1 percent, less than the rate of inflation.  These statistics exclude the high unemployment rate which makes life even harder for the average person versus the now even wealthier CEO.  All of this should make perfect sense (to the clinically insane) since those CEOs have done such a wonderful job of hiring people and getting the economy going again.  Or was it that they didn’t do that?  I get confused based on looking at their pay sometimes.

Lots of interesting points in the article such as the fact shareholders now have the ability to vote down a CEO’s pay package.  This helps to bring down the average pay of CEOs (not really as the stats show) and gives shareholders more power over what happens at the companies they invest in.  Right!…Right?…No.  Since their vote was given no teeth whatsoever you get what happened at Simon Properties:

Simon Property’s shareholders rejected (CEO) Simon’s pay package ($137 million) by a large margin: 73 percent of the votes cast for or against were against.

But the company doesn’t appear likely to change the 2011 package. After the shareholder vote, it released a statement saying that “we value our stockholders’ input” and would “take their views into consideration as (the board) reviews compensation plans for our management team.” But it also said that Simon’s performance had been stellar and it needed to pay him enough to keep him in the job.

That worked well.  Good to see being a shareholder at Simon Property matters to the company.  And I guess the company is correct.  I mean, seriously.  What kind of a desperate low life would stay at a company for a paltry $50 or $60 million?  The shareholders clearly have no idea how hard it is to make it in this world on only eight figures a year.

This ridiculousness was later followed by this incredible sentence:

Military contractor General Dynamics stopped paying for country club memberships for top executives, though it gave them payments equivalent to three years of club fees to ease “transition issues” caused by the change.

My apologies.  Need a second.  My head just exploded on my screen.

Message to General Dynamics: that is not a “transition issue”.  A real transition issue is when you actually lose something, like your job, and you have to figure out what to spend the last of your money on, food or bills.  In this case, no one lost anything.  When you take a lavish perk away then compensate the party enough money to recover said perk the only “transition issue” is filling out the paperwork yourself for your own country club membership.  That is not a real issue.  It’s a slight inconvenience at best.  Real issues, like unemployment and rising health care costs, are appalled by your attempt to associate country club memberships with them.

And, as if this even needs to be pointed out anymore, this article shows the continued failure of the absurd idea of “trickle down economics”.  A tiny group of people at the top of the income ladder increasing their pay by over 6 percent last year.  A far larger group’s wages not keeping up with inflation.  Obviously the trickle down effect is working like a charm…if you are one of the few at the top, of course.  I’m not sure how many times the theory has to fail in reality before people catch on that the only ones pushing hard for trickle down policies are the very few who stand to heavily benefit from them and they have so much money they are able to flood the media with their dreadful theory.  This propaganda tricks people into thinking they are right and it does somehow work.

But then again, even if we had a group of people who didn’t believe the theory become shareholders in a company, it’s not like it would matter regardless of what the majority says.