Saturday, August 22, 2009

Where's the Outrage? Cities Are Dying. Goldman Sachs Bonuses? $18 Billion

It's time, the gloves come off...

"Due to a $700 million budget shortfall, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter made the following announcement on Thursday, August 20:
Revised Five Year Plan Delivered to City Council Aug. 20, 2009

"Today, in accordance with the directive from PICA, I transmitted to the Philadelphia City Council a revised Five Year Plan that if implemented will result in the largest lay off of Philadelphia public servants in our great city’s history. The Plan C implementation has begun. The clock has started.

This proposed plan, if implemented, would be the most radical, painful and unprecedented dismantling of City government since the framers of our Home Rule Charter created our structure of government in 1951. But as I’ve said for many weeks now, this terrible action need not happen if Harrisburg approves quickly and without amendment the legislation that temporarily raises our sales tax and makes changes to our employee pension payments.

And yet, under the revised plan I’m sending to City Council, thousands of city employees – hard-working people with families, mortgages and college bills, tax-paying city residents who come to work every day – face the loss of jobs in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Equally important, these employees, to a man and woman, provide crucial services to the residents of Philadelphia, and those services would be dramatically diminished – an impact that will be felt very directly by residents of the city and the region.

This enormous reduction in service also comes at a time when the city is seeing dramatic increases in requests for those services – at homeless shelters, health centers, libraries and other city facilities.

In light of these impending reductions, very soon we must inform parents and guardians that recreation and library programs on which their children and others depend will not be available. These parents and citizens will need to start considering alternate plans.

Today, therefore, we formally began the process of preparing to cease operations in vast segments of city government. Every part of the government will be affected. Hoping for the best but preparing for the worst, city departments had already started working and have completed layoff registers. We expect all departments will send these lists to the city’s Office of Human Resources tomorrow.

Layoff notices to employees will be delivered no later than Sept. 18, and with the two-week layoff notice required by civil service regulations, layoffs will become effective no later than Oct. 2.

· Almost 1,000 positions in the police department and 200 in the fire department; · Trash pickup reduced to twice a month from weekly; · All libraries, recreation centers and pools closed. · The City will no longer fund the courts. · Entire departments, including the Planning Commission, Commerce and Fairmount Park, will be shuttered. · In all, 3,000 positions will be eliminated."

1,000 police laid off? 200 firemen? ALL public libraries and recreation centers CLOSED? Courts not funded? and then I read this:

"Goldman Sachs Will Pay a Record $18.8 Billion in Bonuses"
by Laurie Essig

"Yes, it’s true. The rich do get richer. While the rest of us suffer the worst economic situation since the Depression, Goldman Sachs is paying RECORD salaries and bonuses this year to its 28,000 employees. In fact, if Goldman Sachs suddenly became more democratic and divided these bonuses up evenly, each employee would get an average of $600,000 in salary and bonuses.

Gee, $600,000 seems like a reasonable salary. Especially in this economy. After all, minimum wage is going up. A Democrat-controlled Congress finally managed to raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour. So full-time minimum wage workers will now earn about $15,000. Since $15,000 is still below the poverty level for a family, the average person might get the idea that it is completely unfair for Goldman Sachs employees to earn 300 times the poverty level and 400 times what a minimum wage worker earns.

But we should understand that these rich bankers at Goldman Sachs need their salaries because they’re used to them and they’re used to getting more and more every year and it would be really difficult for them if they couldn’t vacation in the Hamptons and send their kids to super expensive schools and take little Fifi to the groomer every Wednesday while they get Botox shot into their foreheads. So really, we should just let them have their piles of money and get on with the business of getting by.

But wait, Goldman Sachs is paying its record salaries with OUR MONEY. Yes, that’s right, the fat cat bankers at Goldman Sachs led the way when it came to risky lending and trading practices, then, when the consequences of those practices became clear and other banks began to fail, Goldman Sachs snapped up $10-billion in federal bailout money to cover its bad investments. Goldman Sachs also used the AIG bailout to make sure they didn’t have to pay for the subprime mortgage crisis that they created. According to the Globe and Mail, "Goldman got back its full $13-billion exposure to American International Group thanks to Washington’s bailout of the faltering insurer. The rescue enabled Goldman, along with other financial institutions, to receive 100 cents on the dollar as a counterparty to the risky bets made in the subprime mortgage market and elsewhere – a considerably better outcome than most other investors caught in the financial meltdown.

More than most banks, Goldman anticipated the mortgage meltdown, even betting on its unwinding. And now, with several of its competitors hobbled (Merrill Lynch) or gone (Lehman Brothers), the recapitalized bank is doing very well as a dealer in bonds, including the bonds issued by the federal government to finance all the bailouts and fiscal stimulus.

It’s the use of US taxdollars to keep itself on top and then using the profits from those tax dollars to pay even bigger salaries to the Goldman Sachs bankers that makes the Obama bailout look like a bailout for bankers and not the people. It is also why Matt Taibbi referred to Goldman Sachs as "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."

But if Taibbi is right, then it’s the federal government and the bailout that are the “blood funnel” because they’re the ones who decided to bail out the bankers who created the collapse of credit rather than the people who suffered with high interest loans and more debt than they could ever possibly pay off- especially at $7.25 an hour.

And a stake to the heart is impossible since clearly these people have no heart. No, the only solution is to demand that the “second bailout” (the inevitable next infusion of cash to try to get the economy going again) be for the people, not the bankers. Congress and the Obama administration must notice that even with minimum wage higher than ever, outrage over the shameless greed of bankers is also higher than ever."

A comment: So when will it hurt enough, Americans? When will you finally understand that the Government is nothing more than the whore of Wall Street, and Congress and the Senate filled with vile, spineless, bought-off creatures eager only to please their Masters, at YOUR expense? $700 BILLION to "rescue" these traitors and criminals from their own greed deranged actions, and children in our cities face closed and locked library doors? Traitors? I call them TRAITORS to this country, because their actions have harmed us more than any foreign enemy could ever dream to, and their loyalty is to their god, PROFIT, at any and all expense, and the American people be damned and forgotten, until it's time to pay the bill! In every city in this country services are being cut, hard working people losing their jobs, millions homeless and living in poverty- WHEN will you finally stand up and DEMAND an end to this nightmare? Are you truly so beaten that you're willing to accept all this without a fight? I can't, I won't believe that. It's time to finally wake up, and be Americans again, not cowardly, trembling sheep...

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