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We've been warned time and time again, that before things get better, they may continue to get worse. It's relative to the old law of quantum physics, I suppose . . . things in motion tend to stay in motion. Unfortunately, we seem to be in a downward spiral. Every time a beam of light peeks through, it serves only to illuminate a yet deeper, darker blight on the former principles and integrity we expected from our government and our financial institutions.

It's gotten to the point that I can simply repeat my previous columns here, changing a few hues and tones. Last week, I wrote that it would be "Better to include a stipulation in the bail outs to fire the inept and corrupt CEO's and hire a few homemakers adept at balancing a household budget and laying out a chore chart.  We already know that Congress is unable to manage the composition of a single piece of legislation resembling clarity and common sense. We sure don't need to give them a balance sheet!"

In that rant, I was referring to the Bureau of Land Management and the inept way their handling of government lands resulted in the possible slaughter of our last remaining herds of wild horses. This week, the exact same statement applies, as they obviously didn't take my suggestion to 'clean house' and this week we learn that yet another 165 million of the latest installment on the bail out went to bonuses paid to the corrupt and inept employees at AIG who were also responsible for getting us into this mess by insuring all the toxic loans. The Congress is 'outraged' at this revelation. This coming just a few weeks after the Congress expressed 'outrage' at the bonuses being paid to Wall Street CEO's.  And, don't forget the 'outrage' expressed by Fed Chairman Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Geithner.  

Now, we must question all the supposed 'outrage' as being nothing but more political pandering to the electorate because now it seems they were all aware months ago of these 'contract protected' bonuses being part of the deal struck in the bail out deals. And now, it seems the protection of the 'contracts' is so much malarkey. We've already 'nationalized' the banks in the sense that we the taxpayer own, by virtue of shares held, 80% of the toxic assets. Seems the contacts should become null and void when the company went into new 'ownership' and the overwhelming majority is loudly voting against them. Seems it doesn't work that way. I question, why? And why all the outrage by the Fed and the Treasury? Seems they were in on the getting the 'deal' for us. Is it me, or do these people really believe we the taxpayer are that gullible? An even harder question to ask is . . . are they right? Are we that gullible? Why do we keep re-electing these people?

As for our new president, I sincerely believe he wants to 'fix' this mess, and I do believe he's trying to do as much as any one man possibly can, but I'm beginning to question the loyalty of some of his choices for his cabinet positions. I'm beginning to wonder if he was a bit too trusting in the IQ levels of these people and failed a deep enough study of their past histories. I'm beginning to question the trust put into a willingness of his democratically-controlled congress to work with him to get our country back on the right track. I think he failed to believe their own personal agendas were still going to be their priority. I am beginning to question if one can be too cool under fire and it's about time to get angry. Perhaps, we need some firings of those in trusted positions along with the bailees?

The economy, itself, has been worse than this. I do believe this country can rise above our storms. But, only if we make our first priority the restoration of principles and ethics. Until, we demand the integrity of politicians, an end to the back room deals and swaps and trades, the lies and corruption, it will continue to get worse than this. It can and it will.  

Susan Haley

        

**Susan Haley is the published author of two books, several articles on networking, an award-winning poet, and a contract copy editor and book reviewer. She also contributes a column to "The Florida Writer" the official magazine of the Florida Writers Association, for which she is Facilitator for the Sarasota County Chapter. The audio version of her novel "Rainy Day People" awarded runner-up Finalist in the 2008 Indie Excellence National Book Awards. She also contributes a variety of editorials and excerpts of her work to various E-zines, newsletters and local papers.



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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tamra wrote Mar 18, 2009
    • “I think he failed to believe their own personal agendas were still going to be their priority.”

      I don’t agree.  I think he fully understands how the Congress operates because of his time spent in the legislative branch as a Senator.  Perhaps he is not exhibiting an authoritative anger disputing Congress’ actions because he is really one of them, a party man, if you will.  Let’s face it, no one gets to be the head of their party unless they are popular within their party.  He does not want to project an image that there is disharmony within the Democratic Party.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Mar 18, 2009
    • Hi Annie and Tamra!

      Thanks for taking time to share your comments. Believe me, I’m not looking for everyone to agree with everything I say! We are all in this together and I think we are all a bit frustrated with this financial institution mess. I also agree that you’ve both made good points as well. Annie, my kudos on your being on top of the AIG mess and the ‘missing’ clause regarding the bonus limitations. That’s all I’ve ever pleaded for here. The citizens to keep close watch on these people.

      Girls, I was home all day today preparing for my FWA meeting tonight so I had the ‘grilling’ of Liddy on in its entirety. It really was very interesting. I feel kind of sorry for this man, as he came out of retirement and for a dollar a year, agreed to attempt to sort this mess out. I don’t think he, personally, has done anything wrong and is just taking the heat from those that did. He reiterated over and over, I heard it and made notes, that he had worked closely with the FED and Bernanke throughout. He said the treasury was not included in the meetings. He even asked if he was supposed to report to both entities and was told no. I don’t know why he’d lie about that. But, I think there is more to come out.
      Maybe they were legally bound to pay these contracts in order to go back and sue through the legal channels like he said. He said failing to pay them would have undone all the work they’ve accomplished and he vowed to continue to work so that the entire bailout would eventually be paid back as well. Not just the bonuses. Only time will tell that. He said he could show the ‘repairs’ he’s already accomplished in getting things in order. It’s a lot bigger mess than we can even imagine, I’m sure.
      Tamra, I tend to agree with you to a point, too. I think where Obama made his error in trust was that when he was in the senate, that lustrous body was controlled by the Republicans. He was in the minority which takes a different role. I think he really believed that with the mandate given by the people on November 4, and the majority power given back to the Democrats, that they would all pull together and get things done to get the country back on track. They sure didn’t do anything when they got the majority in the house in 2006! But then, they were fighting the veto pen of the Bush administration, too.
      Frankly, the whole of the Congress with a few exceptions disgusts me. Hypocrisy runs rampant in that capitol building. I think Pelosi will end up being the thorn in the president’s side, the indirect cause of many failures. Many I speak to, loyal democrats included, don’t approve of Pelosi stuffing her own agenda into the stimulus. They did, it seems, take advantage of the haste in which Obama wanted to get the country moving. Most of us know how interminably long it takes ANYTHING to get through the legislative process! This was passed in record speed!
      I truly believe we have to stay the course and support the president for a term, at least. It’s only been three months since the new administration has been tackling this disaster. We knew it wouldn’t be easy or quick. We need to keep an extremely watchful eye on all levels of government and continue to make our voices heard.
      I don’t agree with all the bail outs at all, but a lot smarter folks than I insist they are imperative to avoid full-fledged depression which nobody wants. I’m all for putting our emphasis on the smaller community banks, but that, they say, won’t work in this global economy. I admit I’m not qualified to say. I tend toward logic and my gut-sense. Guess that method is a bit archaic these days. Too bad. We’ve been going down hill ever since we lost some of the ‘old-fashioned hand-shake prinicples‘, in my opinion.
      I really appreciate your responses. We also need all the thought food we can get!
      Best,
      Susan



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Jenz ~ wrote Mar 18, 2009
    • Stimulus dollars should never be allowed to be applied to bonuses. It’s ridiculous.
      ESPECIALLY in the million(s) range. Everyone is scrambling these days and the idea of anyone even considering giving or accepting bonuses in those amounts is unthinkable now.
      Looks very scam-ish to me also.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tamra wrote Mar 18, 2009
    • Very good analysis, Susan.  I have heard that not paying the bonuses would have cost the taxpayers three times the money once the Connecticut courts ruled in the employees’ favor, so the prudent thing to do was just go ahead and pay them.  

      My biggest frustration is not with AIG or Liddy for paying them, but with the gov’t officials for either:  1. not knowing about them before giving AIG bailout money (which was highly irresponsible if they didn’t know); or 2. for not communicating it to the American public at the time the first bailout was paid to AIG if they did know.  We, the people, are due the full story if we are going to be paying for it, not just what is convenient to tell us at the time.  Ya know, the Obama “full disclosure” principle.  That deception angers me more than the actual bonus payouts.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Polly W wrote Mar 18, 2009
    • I have seen it worse, and of course I have seen it better. This is the worst since 1981 though—-but not near as bad as then. Now I feel as if I have some control over what happened in my personal life. I have lived it before, and will likely live through it again at some point in my lifetime.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tamra wrote Mar 18, 2009
    • Oh yes, beauticontrol!  I remember 1981.  It was my first year out of college.  Houston was in the tank back then, with banks failing all over town.  In the accounting profession, the best place to find a job was with the Resolution Trust Corp, the federal entity that was in charge of taking over the failed banks.  The oil and gas industry was losing numerous jobs, too.  There was a joke going around town—Where can you find a geologist?  Driving the next taxi!  It was a very depressing time here.

      Fortunately for Houston, things are not nearly as bad this time around.  The energy and health care industries are still fairly strong, and the Houston economy has both.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Midnightmom wrote Mar 22, 2009
    • I must be missing something. If AIG insured the bad loans then why did the banks need to be bailed out? Wouldn’t AIG be responsible for paying those loans off?

      Personally, I think these executives being paid millions in bonus money is criminal. Doesn’t any regular American that robs a bank get jail time? Talk about executive privilege!



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