Help, I Can’t Live On 500K


I was listening to “the talk of the nation” on NPR today. They had investigative reporter Alan Salkin on talking about a piece he did for the New York Times called “You try living on 500K in this town.” He was referring to the proposed cap on pay to bankers and CEO’s for these banks receiving bailout money. He investigated why it is impossible for these folks to live on 500K when they had appearances to keep, expensive homes in the city and the Hamptons plus nannies and doormen to pay.

Now I totally understand that he was just reporting the numbers that these people shell out while earning two or three million dollars a year. What I was dumbfounded by were the comments that people who were trying to defend the lifestyles of these rich yet not so famous CEO’s. I know that there are always two sides to every story, which is the reason Mr. Salkin wrote the piece. But, no amount of sugary explanations can make this make this palatable.

The one comment that had me practically screaming in my car was a lady who felt that we should cut them some slack as this country isn’t a socialist one. That if there is money to be made those CEO’s should have every opportunity to make as much of it as they can. Let capitalism work and if that means they get rich then so be it. She also felt that when they ask for handouts they shouldn’t have to jump through hoops or be penalized because there is nothing wrong with being wealthy.

Now, she wants me to believe that I and everyone else should cut them some slack, but when does anyone cut slack to poor people or black people for that matter? When has a poor person who wanted a government handout ever been cut some slack? When have they ever been able to continue a lavish lifestyle while digging in Uncle Sam’s pockets for food stamps and welfare?

Yet, somehow I am supposed to understand that these rich moneybag CEO’s have a lifestyle to uphold with a large mortgage on two possibly three houses who need help should not have to worry about losing their lifestyles. But, those who are poor are somehow to blame for their circumstances and should be held totally accountable. Not to mention those poor people should have to suffer under the most stringent of rules just to get a whopping four hundred dollars a month or better yet three hundred or so dollars a month in food stamps.

Sure, that is understandable. Let those getting billions do so with no impunity while those wanting mere pennies in contrast should be subjected to the most rigorous raking over the hot coals. Lord knows those penny beggars are somehow more likely to be cheaters. With this type of attitude running amok in our society is there any doubt as to why disparity is not only allowed but encouraged to flourish?

I agree with her on one thing which is that we should allow the free market capitalism to work for these people. Meaning that they felt it was appropriate for them to get ungodly amounts of money while the bubble was rising and now that it has popped and is speeding back to earth, they should suffer the fallout. And better yet, don’t ask for government money if you don’t want to be subject to the same rigors of scrutiny that everyone else is subject to while asking for a handout.



Filed under Community, Culture, Current Events, Government, Racism, Social Issues

4 responses to “Help, I Can’t Live On 500K

  1. Jay Burns

    Sentinel, I find myself torn on this issue. Like you I feel like we need to let the markets correct themselves. If these CEO’s make bad decisions for the company, investors, and employees they should live with those bad decisions. In the same way the rest of us have to deal with the ramifications of over extending our budgets. While I don’t think the government has any right to dictate to a private company what their employees should be paid, or what is an “exceptible” amount, part of me believes those companies gave up their right to autonomy when they excepted the bailout. On the other hand, many of those banking institutions were forced by the government to take the money as conditions of merger approval, or by the government simply purchasing stock in the company, even after the execs asked Paulson not to do so.

  2. Hi Jay,

    Anyhow, I do agree with you that the government should not force them to take anything while doing mergers. I do believe that what they are getting is akin to welfare and should be subject to the same stipulations. I think that all of these bad decision by these CEO’s has caused so much damage throughout our economy that in order to avert everyone from disaster they felt compelled to action. I guess no president wants to be the one with the second depression on their watch. Yet, we can’t complain about letting the free market work if we are going to subvert it when trouble arises.

    Thanks for the reply.

  3. Ed

    I’m certainly in the “let the chips fall where they may camp.”

    Banks chose to give loans to people who couldn’t afford them. Phil Gramm made it legal to do so but nobody in the government held a gun to Merrill Lynch’s head and forced them to repackage debt from bad loans or to Washington Mutual and forced them to give out loans, Fox News propaganda notwithstanding.

    My rational mind takes over, however, knowing that nothing being done will be cataclysmic and I’m not sure when the smoke clears capitalism will reemerge from the dust.

  4. Sentinel,

    I also find it hilarious that these “capitalists” are now perfectly fine with government intervention. I definitely agree that these people should allowed to fall on their faces just like everybody else.

    The thing about that is that it will never happen.

    Unfortunately, the way that this monetary system is structured, the powers that be will need the banks on their side in order to create the perception that we can rebound from this. It is this perception that they are hoping will “stir the markets”. This will include allowing the CEO’s to keep their Ferraris.

    I know, what a mess…

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