Friday, January 23, 2009

Being John Thain

The arrogance, disrespect, and dishonor of people such as John Thain, former CEO of Merrill Lynch now with Bank of America, is mind-boggling. But the reality is those in his industry have operated in an alternative universe for so long that their actions are simply a matter of course for them. This is business as usual and one of the main reasons that we are in such a financial crisis.

Recently, it was discovered that Thain spent some $1.22 million dollar redecorating his office after Bank of America, which acquired Merrill Lynch, had received a bailout from the government to the tune of $45 billion dollars. First Bank of America received $25 billion and then it recently returned to the Treasury Department seeking an additional $20 billion. They got it.

Thain's spending was reminiscent of leaders of another large financial institution upon receiving welfare. Remember that AIG spending $440,000 on spa services after receiving $85 billion of welfare from the government. Here is how a portion of the bailout was spent according to The Daily Beast :

One Area Rug: $87,000
Another Area Rug: $44,000
Curtains: $28,000
Chairs: $87,000
Fabric: $11,000
Table: $25,000
Cadenza: $68,000
Sofa: $15,000
Desk: $18,000
Coffee Table: $16,000
Chandelier: $13,000

While some have called the infusion of government money into private industry a bailout, or a life-line in the above cases, I like to call it welfare. We only associate welfare negatively with certain sectors of the population who cannot care for themselves, even when children are concerned.

Bank of America and AIG receive welfare for mismanagement, greed, and wasteful spending. The ugliness of this all, while perhaps more than a few employees released last year received some sort of government benefit, is disheartening, quite disgusting, to say the least.

Should John Thain be fired immediately?

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