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Wall Street bonuses: where's the outrage?

Getty
Except for Michael Moore, whose new movie posits that capitalism is one big Ponzi scheme, the news Wednesday that banks are thriving and that Wall Street analysts are in line for big bonuses this year seemed to land with all the political weight of a dull thud.

Oh sure, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said he'll soon hold hearings on executive pay at firms that got taxpayer bailout money, like AIG and Bank of America.

"What infuriates people is when bosses at bailed-out companies ... continue to rake in millions," said New York Democrat Edolphus Towns, the committee's chairman. "It doesn't seem right that the people who caused this tragedy should be so richly rewarded."

And the White House chimed in too, with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs intoning that "pay on Wall Street can't return to the speculative era that we saw ... right before the economic collapse."

But with the Dow Jones hitting 10,000 and the economy stepping back from the precipice of last fall's collapse, there was little of that tea-party outrage that might have been expected.

Have we moved on? Arguing that the country is now more concerned with Afghanistan and healthcare, the Wall Street Journal said of bonus outrage: "That's so last March."

Maybe taxpayers have simply given up on Washington's efforts to corral Wall Street.

After all, Monday President Obama's pay czar, Kenneth Feinberg, approved the compensation package for Robert Benmosche, AIG's new CEO: $3 million in cash, $4 million in stock, and $3.5 million in annual performance bonuses, for a total of $10.5 million.

And Wednesday Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the government’s financial rescue program, said the pay czar really has limited say over executive bonuses. The bonus quandary, he said, is “a mess.”

Let us hear from you. Are you outraged?

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: Protesters outside AIG headquarters in March. Credit: Getty Images

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Comments () | Archives (8)

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This simply slides into the column of empty promises and empty talk that wooed this country into believing these self serving governing "experts" enough to vote 'em in!

When the next flight to Australia? This place is cooked...sticked a fork in it!

It could well be that people are not swallowing the fake outrage from folks like Rep. Towns. They saw how Congress, with a few billion of our dollars to bail out companies that should have gone bankrupt, rewarded Wall Street for incompetence. We seem resigned to the fact that so long as the same people who did that, and who apparently have no earthly idea how capitalism or moral hazard work, are still running Congress, there's no point in voicing our outrage to them since there is no chance they'll behave any differently.

It also doesn't help the Democrats that they alst time they ginned up outrage about Wall Street bonuses, we learned that the White House was complicit in letting the bonuses happen.

I figure folks wil register their outrage in a far more focused manner in November, 2010.

ONLY in American can we hate it when companies make a profit, yet not be concerned that our government runs a HUGE deficit.

Profits drive growth, drive our 401K's higher and government debt does the opposite AND raises our taxes and lowers our standards of living

Outraged isn't the word for how I feel about this country as a whole at present. It doesn't even come close. I have voiced my outrage via countless emails and telephone calls to elected officials as well as at the voting booth over the past year, and just look at how much good it's done! No, my sights are set on getting out. I've given up on this nation - it's beyond saving.

Everyone I know is mad about the betrayal of our country to the Banking elite.
Who is paying you to shill this utter nonsense?
If you want to here what people think, go talk to them. The white house and wall street oligarchy do not speak for us.

My husband and I are also beyond outrage. We too have emailed and phoned our congressional "representatives" over the past year and a half. Their responses are nothing more than form letters intended to placate constituents and obfuscate issues. We have made it clear that we will NOT vote for them in the mid term elections. Maybe Wall Street and lobbyists can buy our government officials but we are the voters and we are tired of having the knives twisting in our backs. We took Wall Street's hands out of our pockets in January, 2008, only to have congress shove Wall Street's hands (the "bail out") back in without our consent. Fortunately for us, my husband is of Canadian descent and we have a short range plan to vacate this country.

Tax the corporate scumbags!!!

Everyone get off your ass and do the following:
1-get ALL of your money out of the too big to fail banks. Switch to a local credit union. There is no excuse for ANYONE to be banking with the likes of the TBTF banks. Matter of fact, you ought to keep a lot of your cash in a safe at home. When it hits the fan, and it will, you won't be stuck waiting to get your money from the FDIC(good luck, they're broke).
2-if you can't pay off your credit card balances in full next month, don't pay at all, ever. Stop being a debt slave while the banksters rape you.
3-if you owe more on your house than it's worth, find a home to rent, move, then don't pay another dime on your mortgage. Home prices will fall much further than you think in many areas.
4-now that the stock market has had a nice rally and is ripe for a crash, sell all of your stocks and move into cash. You were warned.
5-vote out of office all incumbents next year that are still pandering to wall st.
6-tell everyone you know to do the same.
We now understand that our federal government no longer represents the people, and it's time to take our country back from the financial oligarch's that have robbed you, your children and grandchildren blind. A large organized movement won't work, it must be done independantly at the individual level. The establishment can't take down a disorganized movement and they've already shown they will simply ignore or discredit organized rebellion.
Make no mistake, I'm advocating a peaceful revolution. If that doesn't work then god help us all for what comes next. You can taste the anger that is rising up in America. It's about damn time.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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