Sunday, February 15, 2009

Flogging the Bonus Babies

Congress, the nation’s Chief Executive and, of course, bloggers are condemning executive salaries and bonus payments at a frenetic pace as part and parcel of addressing our nation’s economic woes. It is becoming just plain nonsensical the degree to which this issue has reached front and center in our national psyche considering that, as a contributing factor to either the problem or the solution, it is nothing more than a flyspeck. To those who are victims of the economy it is merely the focus of an overwhelming anger, and to politicians it is a welcome distraction from issues that really matter.

Consider that while we are having a major case of the vapors over a few billion dollars of bonus payments to executives, we are ignoring 600 billion dollars that we pour down the rathole of the military-industrial complex every single year, and that Obama proposes to increase even as we speak. And that does not even include the cost of two wars of choice that we are fighting “off budget” and which we are still not proposing to put on budget.

And what do we get for that budget? We get a military which cannot subdue an enemy armed with nothing more potent than RPG’s and rifles. We get a military two million strong that fields a force of 150,000 in a theatre of battle and tells us “That’s all we have.” What are the other 1,850,000 members of that military doing? Why is none of the other 92.5% not available to relieve or augment that 7.5% deployed in combat in Iraq?

Six hundred billion dollars ($600,000,000,000), year after year, and what do we have to show for it? In addition to a military that cannot defeat our enemies, an intelligence service that cannot find our enemies, or that finds enemies where there are none.

But we want to have fainting spells over a few million bucks paid to executives who did a bad job. The discussion is not about running those executives out of those jobs, not about punishing them for what they did, merely about not continuing to pay them the large salaries.

Give me a break.

Ten billion dollars simply disappeared in Iraq; just vanished with no one even pretending to make any account for it. Hundreds of thousands of weapons fell into the hands of our enemy there, and the general who was in overall command of accountability for those weapons spun some nonsense about “kicking them out the doors of helicopters” and has been promoted to overall theater command. Tens of billions of dollars have been paid out for construction and project work in Iraq that was never performed. The same thing is happening all over again in Afghanistan.

Heaven forfend, however that we should stand by while some Wall Street executives collect overlarge bonuses or salaries.

One trillion, and by some accounts as much as three trillion dollars of taxpayer money has been committed by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department for rescue of financial institutions, and this has been done with a complete lack of Congressional or Executive oversight. Additionally, the Federal Reserve avers that no oversight or accounting of these monies is due or will be made. We care not about that; we care about the Wall Street executive incomes.

Staggering amounts of money are finding its way through the coffers of our government, and enormous amounts of it are being mismanaged one way or another. We ignore all of that and quibble about a trifling amount collected in salaries and bonuses on Wall Street.

It’s time to turn the discussion to things that matter.

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