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.

The Irony of Right-Wing CEO Propaganda

Recently, an alarming trend has begun in the corporate world that should be exposed and analyzed.  CEOs of large companies have informed their employees they will likely lose their jobs if they vote for President Obama in the upcoming election.  These CEOs are putting on their Nostradamus caps and predicting the future of the economy and are seeing only pain and grief if the Democrat is re-elected for a second term.  Is it fair to point out now that most of these same guys apparently did not see the economic calamity of 2008 coming and told their employees nothing of this nature at that time?  How strange?  But I guess they must be correct in their assumptions now.  Would everyone who believes that be interested in buying a bridge I have for sale?

CEO Propaganda: Don’t believe the hype

There is a great irony here.  There is little doubt a lack of regulation in the housing and derivatives markets were the greatest causes of the financial crisis we are still feeling the effects of and both political parties were guilty of contributing to that situation.  But history has no place in the propaganda of these CEOs.  One even warns of “unprecedented regulatory burdens on businesses” that will come if Obama wins in November and this is why the employees should be worried about their jobs.  And therein lies the irony.

The economy imploded because of deregulation or a lack of new regulation where it was needed.  The bleeding was stopped with liberal economic policy and the passing of the stimulus bill.  Now employees are told to vote for the candidate most likely to deregulate and make the economy more volatile and to shun the candidate responsible for setting the economy on a stable path to growth.  So, if you want to keep your job, vote for the policies that nearly lost you your job four years ago instead of the policies that have kept you working during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

The ridiculous reality of this situation is these guys actually do have the power to create the circumstances they are predicting whether the economy plays a role or not.  They can simply fire their employees, close their businesses, and watch the chaos like children who do not get their way.  This is most exemplified by the last few lines of this letter released last week to the, now frightened, employees of Westgate Resorts:

My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, so will your opportunities. If that happens, you can find me in the Caribbean sitting on the beach, under a palm tree, retired, and with no employees to worry about.

Signed, your boss,

David Siegel

Two important aspects of this should be noted.  The first is the phrase “provide jobs”.  Siegel is obviously running with the idea the 1% are the “job creators” and threatens his people in a not-so-subtle phrasing of that.  The second is the fact certain people are able to make a threat like this because of the income inequality in the U.S.  He has no motivation to work so he hoards this over his employees and threatens their livelihoods because he can.  If the problem of inequality was not as great as it is, he might not be so motivated to close his business just to get his way.  (We, of course, should not worry too much about these threats since greed will keep these guys right where they are for the foreseeable future regardless of the election outcome.)

This is nothing more than another way of bosses buying votes.  In the past, people were paid to check the ballot box for a candidate of someone else’s choosing.  Now the currency is their job and the security of knowing they will have one next year.

And remember, this is not a person being influential because of their ideas, their ability to inspire people, their ability to organize people, or even their ability to change people’s perspectives on life.  It is the influence of money and greed, plain and simple, sad and unfortunate, disgusting and undemocratic.