As the rich get richer

Ted Hamilton

It does not seem to matter what mask the “new” administration in the White House puts on, it is much like the Bush administration when it comes down to one simple thing.

The American taxpayers are getting screwed.

Congress and our last president – with support from our current know-nothing leader – crafted the mighty bailout bill to save Wall Street and keep the economy from tanking. Seven-hundred billion dollars were appropriated in taxpayer monies to purchase assets from hurting banks in an attempt to salvage the economy from the mortgage crisis.

That’s $700 billion with a “B,” certainly not chump change.

Where has that money gone? Well, it has not done the middle class much good.

Some of the banks that were given government funds used the money to buy out competitors in the same city. Still some – perhaps even more maliciously – gave millions of dollars to corporate executives for their “performance.”

It is like this: A captain on a cruise liner gets drunk and ends up crashing his ship into an oil tanker, causing hundreds of people to die. The company that owns the cruise line surveys the damage, pats the captain on the back and says, “Well nice try, here’s $50 million for your effort. I’m sorry that you bankrupted our cruise lines.”

That is pretty much what is happening in the banking industry.

The insurance corporation AIG – which received more than $170 billion – turned around and gave bonuses to its executives.

Tragically, the government was not doing anything to prevent things like this from happening. Oh sure, once there was a cry of public outrage, Treasury Secretary Geithner and members of Congress were also upset.

Well, at least pretended to be.

The truth of the matter is that the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve both knew this could be coming as early as November according to e-mails released to the public.

Enter Merrill-Lynch.

The global financial services company awarded over $3.5 billion to their top executives in December. That amount is equal to a third of the bailout money they received before going defunct, having been bought out by the Bank of America.

There is almost no way that someone in the federal government did not know this was happening when the U.S. government holds 800,000 shares of preferred stock in Bank of America, and officials had met with both companies regularly while working on the bailout.

The real sinister thing going on is not the executives getting bonuses or even the companies giving the bonuses – the real sick thing is that the bailout was passed in the first place.

Some people reason the bailout had to be passed to stabilize the economy, but has it? Jobs are still being lost, and the recession is still spreading gloom and doom around the entire globe.

The politicians – or America’s native criminal class, as Mark Twain once remarked – can stop pointing fingers because they are all to blame. Obama can throw muck at Bush all he wants, but in the end he was a strong supporter of the bailout.

In the end, corporate and political greed has screwed the people and only worked to make the rich richer. People are finally starting to get angry with what the government has been wasting our hard-earned money on. Before too long the Obama administration and its congressional lackeys are going to have to start giving answers to the American people, and it will not be pretty.

Ted Hamilton is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].