Monday, December 22, 2008

Do The Math

Where did that $350 billion of the TARP go? The Associated Press reported over the weekend that none of the banks that received the TARP funds could give a reasonable answer as to where it went. Some even wouldn't say what they did with it at all. And no one is willing to step up and ask them "Where did it go?! What did you spend it on? More bonuses, more corporate jets, more lavish 'workshops' at plush resorts? Why did GM and Chrysler have to have the dirt under their fingernails checked, but Citigroup just had to fill out a two-page form? WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO WITH THE MONEY, YOU ASSHOLES?!?!"

Jim Cramer is willing to ask, and he really wants to know. Especially check him out starting at 4:19, he's on fire:

I've said it before: no one in Congress was willing to ask the banks and the insurance companies how they fucked up the money, because no one in Congress really understands how the financial markets work, and they didn't want to be made to look like fools in front of the tv cameras and the "Wall Street titans." Let me tell you, I worked for ten years in the financial markets, and I'm not surprised that the banks, after begging for the dough, now aren't willing to say where all that money went. They don't think that they have to; they think that they're still Masters of the Universe...even though they're the same idiots who got us into this mess in the first place.

The guys that run Citi, and Morgan, and Bank of America, the hedge fund managers who make half-a-billion-with-a-B dollars a year, they don't think that they're subject to the same rules as the rest of us, plain and simple. They went crazy, made up insane financial instruments, synthetic derivatives based on air--polluted air, at that!--that screwed up the worldwide financial system, then ran to Uncle Sam for the money to clean up their fuckups. But, having been asked, do you think that anyone in Congress would then inquire of the banks to kindly enlighten us as to some idea of how they're going to use the money?--Seeing as how the last set of ideas these geniuses had got us into this mess in the first place. No, because these bankers knew how to con them. "Don't ask, you wouldn't understand the answer anyway," they said, away from the tv cameras. "Don't ask," said Hank Paulson, "this is far too complex to explain to the likes of you, and this is an urgent matter!" So Congress bent over, and gave up the cash. Or rather, they bent us over, and picked our pockets.

So no one asked the lords of the financial markets what they were going to do with the money. But making cars, heyyy, now that's something that the average congresscritter, especially the southern Republican ones, think they know something about. "You just stand in place and do the same thing every day, right? And you think that's worth $70 an hour?" (Which itself is utter bullshit. Additionally: salary for a member of the U.S. Senate = $169,300, or roughly $81 an hour.) "Why, that's almost as much as we make! And all we do is stand in the same place every day and do the same.....waitaminute, what are you going to do with all this money??" Notwithstanding the fact that the CEO of Merrill Lynch made more money in 2007 than a whole local of the UAW does in a decade. Notwithstanding the fact that part of the reason the automakers are in such dire straits is that there's no credit available for people to use to buy their products in the first place, thanks to the aforementioned financial wizards. Nowithstanding the fact that the lords of Wall Street didn't have a single condition attached to the $350 billion that they've been given.

So General Motors and Chrysler had to account for damn near every penny, promise to sell their jets, come up with a new business plan, and do it all in three months, or else! Yeah, do just that, and build us some flying pigs too, and then we'll give you the money. That's what Congress asked the auto manufacturers to do before they got a loan. But the banks were given their billions, no questions asked, and they got away scot-free, the way that skilled professional thieves always get away.

We need to ask some hard questions, and demand answers. We need to follow the money, as Jim Cramer suggested, and find out what did they do with it, where did it go, and when did they do it. And we need to bring some serious regulation back to Wall Street, to make it somewhat less of a least, for the next ten or twenty years or so.

Because the professional thieves will always find a new way to steal. But for a little while, maybe we can make things a little fairer for the rest of us.

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