Monday, February 02, 2009

Tutti frutti, oh Rudy

"It does have a reverse effect on the economy, if you somehow take that bonus out of the economy. It really will create unemployment." That was Rudolph Dubya Giuliani defending the mind-boggling bonuses paid, come hell or high water, to Wall Street traders and executives as a reward for pissing away billions of dollars of other people's money and helping to wreck the planetary economy. It's one of those statements that appears to be English, but refuses to parse. Considering the state of the Wall Street balance sheet, "that bonus" turns out to be money from the US Treasury, since checks written by the banks and brokerage houses would bounce without it. So we, the increasingly unemployed American people, should pay their bonuses because -- what? -- it will "create unemployment" if we don't? The Masters of the Universe must have been spending their millions at BestBuy, Macys, Walgreen and Home Depot. That would explain it.

John A. Thain, the CEO of Merrill Lynch, has an even loopier rationale: If you don't pay bonuses to "your best people," they will go elsewhere. First, as Jon Stewart has pointed out, Merrill doesn't have best people, only idiots who lost billions of investors' dollars. Second, where will they go? Bear Stearns? Goldman Sachs? Lehman Brothers? They should have to put on little vests and say "Welcome to Walmart" all day, but even Walmart is not hiring, and these clowns couldn't pass the stringent drug tests. A quick survey suggests that the only place their financial expertise is wanted right now is Zimbabwe. A few weeks ago Zimbabwe issued a billion-dollar banknote, so Zimbabweans could buy a stamp to send a letter to a friend asking if there are any jobs in Capetown or Nairobi. Last week the new finance minister dropped all pretense of having a viable currency, demonstrating more common sense than John Thain, Rudolph Giuliani, and the entire Republican Party hot-glued together and deposited in Death Valley in July. Sorry, that's a fantasy of mine, please disregard.

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