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Thursday, October 29,2009

Life's not fair to Wall Street bankers

By Jim Hightower

It used to be that corporate CEOs drew their narrowly focused business ethic from the laissez-faire novels of Ayn Rand — but today’s corporate chieftains seem to be drawing their business models from The Godfather and Robert De Niro’s Mafia movies.

Take Goldman Sachs. Having been bailed out with billions of our tax dollars, this banking behemoth is now raking in profits and distributing the take among those in “The Company.” So far this year, Goldman has set aside $16.7 billion to split as bonus money with its bankers — an average of $530,000 for each of them!

With public opinion of Wall Street bankers already running at about the same bottom-dwelling level of mobsters, such a huge take adds fuel to the anger of hard-hit folks who feel robbed by financial greedheads. Thus, Goldman’s top boss has warned the recipients of the bonuses not to flaunt their share of the windfall by rushing out to buy $100,000 cars or loudly ordering $5,000 bottles of wine in restaurants.

This caution against in-your-face consumption is right out of the Mafia handbook! In fact, I think I saw it in a De Niro movie. Of course, Goldman’s executives not only want to make such big money hits, but they crave respect, as well — and they’re a bit touchy about being perceived as members of an illegitimate syndicate. The company’s chief financial officer sounded almost like an offended consigliere recently when he pleaded with the media to focus less on the bank’s bonus culture and more “on the success of our business, on how well we’re doing and how well our people are performing.

Yeah, life’s just not fair to bankers who’re making a killing at public expenses and being paid such extravagant bonuses that they have to hide their windfall. Next thing you know, they’ll be forming the Wall Street Anti-Defamation League, and asking us to donate to it.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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