Stillwater News Press

Opinion

June 4, 2014

JIM HIGHTOWER: Wall Street rewards for stiffing you

STILLWATER, Okla. — Not only has the Wall Street bailout restored the banksters who wrecked (and are still wrecking) our economy to full prosperity but it's also paying off very handsomely for the bank overseers who orchestrated the bailout. Perhaps you've been wondering: How are good ol' Ben and Little Timmy doing these days?

Extremely well – thank you very much.

As chairman of the Federal Reserve for six years, Ben Bernanke presided over most of the 2008 financial crash, the Wall Street bailout that poured trillions of public dollars into Wall Street's vaults, the Great Recession that followed, and today's “recovery-that-isn't,” since 90 percent of Americans still have not recovered.

Now that he has stepped down as head of the Federal Reserve, Ben is on a global “Show Me Some Love” tour. Going to bankster gatherings to bask in their glowing gratitude – and collecting his cut of the bailout loot. Pocketing as much as $400,000 for each speech he delivers to the financial giants he rescued with our money.

In one week in May, Bernanke was in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, Johannesburg on Wednesday and Houston on Friday, speechifying to global bankers, hobnobbing with hedge fund billionaires and sharing his special brand of insider insight with economic titans. Each of these private chats put $200,000 or more into Ben's deep pockets. He's doing beaucoup of these cash-on-the-barrelhead BenFests for the likes of JPMorgan Chase, Blackstone Group and Morgan Stanley.

In conferences and in small dinners at four-star restaurants, Bernanke is offering his “words of wisdom” to the barons of high finance he bailed out, in exchange for a ridiculous fee that most could not have paid without those rescue funds that the Fed chief extracted from you and me.

But here's an irony that's gotta be chapping Ben's butt – some of the banksters he saved are refusing to play the payback game. Not because they're bothered by the totally corrupt ethics involved, but because they're balking at his sky-high fees. Goldman Sachs, for example, which got a $10 billion bailout and whose CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, took $23 million in personal pay last year, says Bernanke's $200,000 tab is too steep of a price to pay.

Is there no honor among thieves? What's this world coming to when the robber barons won't toss a couple of hundred thousand bailout crumbs to Ben, their loyal servant?

But don't worry about poor ol' Ben. He'll be just fine because the revolving doors in Washington keep turning.

Just take a look at little Timmy Geithner, whose chief responsibility as head of the New York Fed had been to regulate Wall Street's reckless banks so their monstrous greed wouldn't cause a nationwide financial crisis. But -– oops! – they did just exactly that on Timmy's see-no-evil, speak-no-evil watch. Still, having proven himself a real banker's man, Geithner was promoted to be America's top financial policy maker as President Obama's Treasury Secretary. There, he insisted that the government's priority must be rescuing greedy bankers with our taxpayer dollars, rather than saving the millions of American homeowners stuck with bloated mortgages, facing wage cuts and joblessness, and who were sinking deep into debt and plunging into poverty.

But, being a good banker's man, Geithner was not punished for his inept and morally deplorable policies. Rather, he was richly rewarded with a top executive position as – what else? – a Wall Street banker. Now, he has published a book about his years of public screw-ups. Oh, sorry, I meant “public service.” Concluding that his policies were correct and courageous, Geithner's book should've been titled: “Heckuva Job, Timmy!”

So, Wall Street hucksters are prospering and Ben and Tim are wallowing in wealth – and the real economy remains mired in the ditch of joblessness, low wages, heavy household debt ... and rising anger at the Wall Street/Washington cabal of self-serving elites who shoved them into that ditch.

Jim Hightower is a former agriculture commissioner of Texas and now a syndicated columnist.

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