Monday, November 3, 2008

Hearing the other side

Remember when I said that I just wanted to hear from one of the people who got us in this mess? Well, here it is--a terrific article that gives us just a tiny window into the thinking of a Wall Street money man. The part that made me draw in my breath just a bit too sharply:

After he was forced to fire his 60-person staff eary this year, shortly before he was fired himself, he played with his toys for a couple of months--his cars, his boat, his collection of 10 Les Paul guitars. "I just bought Slash's signature Les Paul guitar," he says excitedly. "Look, I lost 50 grand at Lehman. I'm not going to deny myself a $3000 guitar." In fact, he also recently bought a Piper plane. "The day after I was fired, I was like, 'F--- it, I'm going to get a plane,'" he says.

I've said--and I mean--that I have no problem with people making lots of money, especially if they have taken risks or made investments or invented something really useful or somehow added value to the world. I still, though, don't understand why the executives of these failed companies "deserve" their obscene salaries--they aren't inventors, they aren't entrepreneurs, they are employees hired to do a job. Why does the CEO of Lehman Brothers deserve $22 million this year? Why does the CEO of Goldman Sachs get $54 million? The CEO of Boeing--which made a $4 billion profit this year, by the way--gets "only" $13 million. Meanwhile, the earnings of the middle class have dropped every year for the last seven. How does any of this make sense? And why are we not madder?

4 comments:

Electric Monk said...

I love the argument that, well, I lost $50,000, so to make up for it I'm gonna go buy a $3000 guitar. Yeah, cause when I lose a ton of money I console myself by... um... spending a bunch of money.

Scooter said...

Wow! You hit this one on the HEAD! I don't get this either.

Janet said...

I was really mad when I heard that in Europe, they require all these guys to be fired (without bonuses) BEFORE the government will offer a bailout...

Jim said...

I am mad. When we bailed AIG out and then their execs went on a $400,000 retreat (reported on The Today Show), I was incredulous. It's not that I'm not mad. I'm furious. I just feel powerless to do anything about it.