Give Me a Break

by francine Hardaway on January 23, 2009

John Thain redecorated his office for $832k right before he handed the failed Merrill Lynch off to Bank of America and the taxpayers. That’s more than I paid for my house in California. That’s more than most people have in savings. That’s more than the Obamas are paying to re-do the White House.

Moreover, that’s unconscionable. Howard Lindzon can’t get a bank charter, and neither can I. We were both part of separate groups of investors trying to start new community banks last year. But the government has frozen the startup bank process in Arizona, one of the worst state economies in the nation. Both Howard and I work with entrepreneurs, not real estate people, and we’re not dumb. We know that now’s the best time to start a bank. But we can’t.

In the meantime, bankers like John Thain are rearranging the rugs on the Titanic. (I purposely mixed that metaphor.) His rug cost 3x the price of my car. And he knew things were bad when he bought that rug. He just thought the rules didn’t apply to him.

When welfare reform was passed, many people spoke out about the sense of entitlement of the welfare mother, and how it was essential to get her back in the workforce taking care of herself rather than depending on the government. Well, I believe these bankers have a bigger sense of entitlement than any crack-addicted welfare recipient on the planet.

They are not asking for food, clothing, and shelter. They are asking for Oriental rugs, antique furniture, and limousines. Their excuse is that they “create wealth.” Yeah. Out of thin air. And now they have created havoc.

Can’t we have a class action lawsuit brought by Obama on behalf of the American citizens, demanding our share of the ill-gotten gains? I’d take the $.03 each taxpayer would get after the lawyers got their share, just to have my sense of moral outrage assuaged.

I rarely get angry, but the story of how these guys spend money they have created FOR THEMSELVES out of our investments has left me livid this morning, and not my usual yogini self.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer Maggiore January 23, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Our banking system is out of control. The bailout money is a big joke at taxpayers’ expense. The banks aren’t even lending that money to the few qualified buyers who still want homes, banks are hanging on to it. You said exactly what I’ve been thinking, and I love the idea of a class action lawsuit.

Matt Moran January 23, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Hey Francine,

Haven’t seen you in awhile – been busy plus some.

Maybe his really nice office will boost shareholder confidence, creating a ripple affect, causing a rise in consumer optimism, leading to lower unemployment, and eventually thousands of points added to the stock market – fixing the global economic crisis.

And then you can buy your own fancy rug.. or a new car. ;)

I once listened to a someone complain how stressful it was that their house was in some disarray… because they were doing a $100,000 kitchen remodel.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care if someone has the money and does a $500,000 kitchen remodel – but if that is something to be stressed about, I want to live in that world.


Ginger Kenney January 23, 2009 at 6:05 pm

Francine, I totally agree, it outraged me to listen to the items he had purchased and the costs. It is criminal that we are now paying for this idiot’s expenditures? I think it is time to figure out a way to give these banks some competition. Community banks are one way; bankers that are actually connected in the community and who really care. I wonder too if the time has come to give credit unions more latitude to expand?

Marcus January 23, 2009 at 7:14 pm

I understand exactly how you feel. This is one of thousands of stories of mis-use and abuse of power. It’s sickening what’s being uncovered, and I’m sure the uncovered is only a fraction of the true damage.

I am also an even tempered person, but lately I have been challenged with the anger emotion. In fact, some of this stuff is making my blood boil, which rarely happens. Every time I take in another story about this financial debacle, the temperature goes up a notch.

I wonder how much anger is really out there. I am hopeful that everyone takes all of this anger, and channels it in positive ways to effect change. I’m surprised that a class action lawsuit has not been filed yet.

The more I uncover about the bailout money the more I am against any more money going to same organizations. What about the struggling small businesses. Where is their bailout. Don’t they employ most of the people in this country?

Perhaps now that power has changed hands in Washington, your application for a new community bank will be approved. It’s time for some new blood in the financial industry.


Michael VanDervort January 23, 2009 at 9:15 pm

This is very similar to an article I read last year about theDavos conference that Scoble is going to next week. The organizers couldn’t get bank and wall street guys to attend because they were too busy having really excessive parties, etc, and didn’t have time to listen to some of the information that was being presented about the looming economic dangers they were facing.

We have every right to be pissed off. I hope Robert spends a little time on the topic of how things are different while he is there.

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