Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Corporate Welfare Run Amok: a $500 Million Jet and $35,115 Toilet

Two recent news stories of corporate welfare run amok:

Reuters reports that Citigroup which received $45 billion in bailout money is going through with the deal to buy a $50 million dollar private jet for the company.

CNBC reports that former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain resigned under pressure from Bank of America when it was revealed that he rushed out billions of dollars of bonuses in to Merrill Lynch executives on his last day as Merrill Lynch CEO. Bank of America, which received bailout money, asked for and received an additional $20 billion from the government to offset losses from Merrill Lynch. The brokerage lost $15 billion in the fourth quarter and more than $27 billion for the year.

Thain also spent $1.22 million to remodel his office. CNBC breaks it down for the readers:

"When John Thain became Merrill Lynch’s CEO in early 2008, he hired Michael S. Smith Design to revamp his office suite, spending approximately $1.22 million according to documents.

The following is a list of the items in his suite:
— Area Rug: $87,784
— Mahogany Pedestal Table: $25,713
— 19th Century Credenza: $68,179
— Pendant Light Furniture: $19,751
— 4 Pairs of Curtains: $28,091
— Pair of Guest Chairs: $87,784
— George IV Chair: $18,468
— 6 Wall Sconces: $2,741
— Parchment Waste Can: $1,405
— Roman Shade Fabric: $10,967
— Roman Shades: $7,315
— Coffee Table: $5,852
— Commode on Legs: $35,115"

Unfortunately, the same thing goes on here in Indianapolis. Too often "public-private partnerships," touted the last several decades by Republican and Democrat leaders as the savior of this city, have become an excuse for politicians to transfer taxpayer money into the pocket of big business, which often kicks back some of that taxpayer money in the form of campaign contributions. There is no more blatant example than Jim Irsay, the owner of the Colts, and local political leaders used taxpayer money to make him fabulously wealthy. Not surprisingly, he is also a big contributor to state and local candidates.

To gain majority status, Republicans locally and nationally need a populist agenda that will appeal to the common man and woman. Number one on that populist agenda needs to be condemning corporate welfare and, locally, bringing an end to public-private partnerships designed to make the corporate friends of politicians wealthier at the expense of taxpayers.

1 comment:

Leslie Sourwine said...

Public/private partnerships are exactly why the country is in such a mess. You can’t expect the government to monitor the private corporations when there is a profit to be had that is shared with the politician. As we are seeing all over the United States when a problem arises it comes to light that the problem or criminal activities by the big corporations were allowed to continue unhampered by the government watchdog because of the payoffs and contributions to campaigns. American citizens need to realize that when the government is working for us that they may not operate in privacy and they must answer the questions they are asked or suffer the consequences at election time. The hunger for wealth has turned many a honorable man into a criminal at the expense of the taxpayers who are tired of working not one job but for many two jobs while the government collects a large portion of our paychecks to finance their expensive tastes. As for Citi Bank and Merrill Lynch both of these companies are in the mix with the private prison corporations namely Corrections Corporation of America which profits billions every year to incarcerate state and federal prisoners. It’s not hard for me to understand why Citi Bank and Merrill Lynch could think they could take taxpayer money for frivolous purchases when Corrections Corporation of America collects taxpayer money and continuously fails to provide the services they have promised to provide in their contracts.

Leslie Sourwine loves quotes, quoting Ben Franklin, “The king's cheese is half wasted in parings; but no matter, 'tis made of the people's milk.”