Archive for January 22nd, 2010

You know, sometimes you try to practice happiness and it just doesn’t want to work out.

It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions lately, watching the horrors of Haiti on a daily basis.  Too much suffering.  But the outpouring of generosity and aid to this badly shaken country began to raise my spirits and I started to think that maybe the better angels of our national persona will prevail.

But there were two stories in the news yesterday that put a bleak pall over my efforts for sunny optimism.

The first was the bonuses announced for some of the Wall Street firms, including Goldman Sachs‘ announcement that their bonuses would total 16.2 billion dollars.

$ 16, 200, 000, 000.00

That is enough money to rebuild Haiti, estimated at 10 billion dollars, and still leave them with an incredible 6.2 billion.  It’s enough to pay off the deficits of all the states of the union.

It’s serious coin, folks.  And this is only one company.

I think everyone deserves the opportunity to make as much money as they wish but there seems to be something amiss here, something that gnaws at me.  There’s an obscenity to this bonus amount that I can’t fully explain.  I can’t see the productive part they’re playing  throughout our society that says they deserve such a huge amount.  Are they truly that productive?  How many jobs did they create?   I’m certainly no economist but I really need to have it explained to me how in this economy a company can pay bonuses that average nearly $500, 000 per employee.  For every employee, although I’m sure the office staff is seeing much, much less.

I could go on and on but I want to save part of my venting today for yesterday’s news that the Supreme Court had rolled back long-standing (back to the time of Teddy Roosevelt) restrictions on campaign financing, allowing corporations to unlimitedly support the candidate of their choice.

There is your classic Pandora’s Box.

This is creates the potential for a virtual Wild West atmosphere for special interest campaign spending.  You thought that the political races had been toxic in the past?  Think again because you ain’t seen nothing yet.

And it’s not going to affect us in just the obvious ways where state and national candidates who are the beck and call of  certain industries and corporations will be even more difficult to bring down.  It’s at the base of our legal system where local and regional judicial races will take place where this spending will have it’s greatest effect as judges who are beholden to the special interests who paid to get them elected will take over the lower levels of our legal system, making it harder and harder to challenge these special interests in court.  If at all.

And there would be no more recusals for conflict of interest because it would be legal for these special interests to back the judicial  candidate openly.  The rich will get richer, the poor will get poorer and more numerous.  See Goldman-Sachs above.  This will only help them as well to become more and more insulated from any legal recourse.

But like any Pandora’s Box, there are results that the person who opened the box never imagined.  Those who opened it yesterday obviously were more attuned to the corporate voice than that of the common man and perhaps thought that this would only serve to strengthen the grip of Big Business on this country.  It was more about allowing the powers that be to continue to gain even more strength than it was ever about First Amendment rights.  If anything, this will only serve to obscure true First Amendment concerns in the future.

But we’ll have to wait a bit and see.   There’s a part of me that thinks this whole thing could turn around and bite them right on their black-robed asses and  that they could unleash a sea change they never envisioned.

Just a feeling.  Can’t quite see it yet but there’s a feeling.

Anyway, I’ve got to stop this before I become any more agitated.  Maybe I’ll be able to paint myself into a trance with some semblance of tranquility today.

Hope so.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: