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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Well, now we know what the bank bailout was for
Posted by Jill | 6:19 AM
Earlier this week, over 100 people lined up in Ridgewood, New Jersey to meet Captain Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who successfully landed a US Air jet in the Hudson River last January. He was there for a signing of his book, Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters. One woman waiting on line said "He's everything that's good about America."

I wonder what she meant by that. Did she mean that what's good about America is that pilots like Sully and like Bryan Lawlor get demoted and have their pay cut in the middle class' race to the bottom? Or that the people who have our lives in their hands when we fly are moonlighting at Starbucks and collecting food stamps to make ends meet? I wonder if she thinks he's a good right-wing Republican because he wears a uniform, or if she knows that he appeared before Congress to testify in favor of better pay and working conditions for pilots. God knows the GOP doesn't know that Sully is a union guy; they recently tried to get him to run for Congress as a candidate in their I Got Mine And Fuck You Party.

Meanwhile, unemployment is up over 10 percent, even more Americans will lose their health insurance next year while members Congress dicker around about just how far up the rectums of insurance company executives they have to stick their noses in order to collect a nice paycheck for their next campaign, and the results of an economy which said that we don't have to make anything here and we don't even have to keep our knowledge work here are coming to fruition. The middle class is dying, but it's Party On Dude time on Wall Street:
Major U.S. banks and securities firms are on pace to pay their employees about $140 billion this year -- a record high that shows compensation is rebounding despite regulatory scrutiny of Wall Street's pay culture.

Workers at 23 top investment banks, hedge funds, asset managers and stock and commodities exchanges can expect to earn even more than they did the peak year of 2007, according to an analysis of securities filings for the first half of 2009 and revenue estimates through year-end by The Wall Street Journal.

Total compensation and benefits at the publicly traded firms analyzed by the Journal are on track to increase 20% from last year's $117 billion -- and to top 2007's $130 billion payout. This year, employees at the companies will earn an estimated $143,400 on average, up almost $2,000 from 2007 levels.

The growth in compensation reflects Wall Street firms' rapid return to precrisis revenue levels. Even as the economy is sluggish and unemployment approaches 10%, these firms have been boosted by a stronger stock market, thawing credit market, a resurgence in deal making and the continuing effects of various government aid programs.

The rebound also reflects growing confidence by some Wall Street firms that they can again pay top dollar for top talent, especially once they have repaid the taxpayer-funded capital infusions they received at the height of the crisis. So far, regulators and lawmakers have focused on making sure pay practices discourage excessive risk-taking, leaving to companies the question of how much is too much.

The Journal's analysis includes banking giants J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc.; securities firms such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley; asset managers BlackRock Inc. and Franklin Resources Inc.; online brokerage firms Charles Schwab Corp. and Ameritrade Holding Corp.; and exchange operators CME Group Inc. and NYSE Euronext Inc.

These are the same companies to which WE gave billions of dollars back in September 2007, when George W. Bush held us up at gunpoint and said "Gimme your dough or lose your house." And then millions lost their houses anyway. Does anyone still believe that this hasn't been some giant scam perpetrated on us? Does anyone still believe that our government represents us?

That's the tragedy of the "teabag" movement. The rage of the people standing on streetcorners with the signs showing Obama as Hitler are on to something, but even they aren't really aware of what it is. It's so much easier to buy into nonsense about Obama's birth certificate, or that he's a secret Muslim terrorist, or whatever crap gets thrown at them because it's not OK to use the "N" word than to realize that the very system that has been sold to them since Ronald Reagan talked about "a rising tide lifting all boats" is nothing but a massive transfer of wealth and standard of living away from them -- but not to the poor and the immigrants, but to those who already have more money than they could ever spend in 1000 lifetimes. How long have we heard blue-collar guys call into radio talk shows and defend massive tax cuts for the wealthy, saying "Rich people create jobs." During the Bush years, these "rich people" got billions in tax cuts, and where are the jobs? These people have been scammed the way Flounder got scammed by the Delta House guys in Animal House (and I'm not going to post that clip again even though I could post it every day and it would be appropriate). They fucked up. They trusted them.

When people who would gun everyone to the left of Ron Paul down if they thought they could get away with it start calling George W. Bush a war criminal at a Lindsey Graham meeting, you start realizing that left/right is not a continuum but a circle. And that if the "teabaggers" ever wake up and realize that the Scary Negro™ in the White House isn't the one making him poor, it's the system that has sold the current President, his staff, and every member of Congress except perhaps Bernie Sanders, Al Franken, and Alan Grayson, to the very corporations that have decided a middle class isn't in their best interest after all, the combination of the Angry Left and the Angry Right could be a potent force indeed. Because this isn't about red state/blue state, or liberal/conservative. It's about government of the people, by the people, for the people vs. a corporatocracy.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
I expect H1 pilots will be coming very soon. But as long as US pilots are willing to work for less than they would get from unemployment....

We were on a small aircraft tourist flightseeing trip in Arizona this summer. Our pilot was from New Zealand. Since I'm a pilot I began chatting with him about his training etc..

Seems he had come to the US for his pilot training a year ago and from what I gathered -- he was not as forthcoming as I would have liked -- he simply stayed [overstayed!?] beyond his training visa, got a job with the contractor for whom he then worked, and had been flying for the sightseeing company all summer.. I have a lot more hours as a pilot than he does, and like so many others he's just building time hoping to work for an airline -- in his case in the South Pacific. O so he said.

But I think I'll cancel my first sentence.. Illegals are probably paid even less than H1's, so maybe we should expect to see illegals in the cockpit very soon....

Blogger Interrobang said...
Be interesting to see what happens when the rest of the world catches on to this. What's going to happen when the IATA or IFALPA gets good and aware of this? (If I were going to play international hardball politics with this, I'd downgrade the safety ratings of American carriers.)

I know this problem doesn't exist as much at least in Canada because my father was an airline pilot for a major regional (commuter) carrier, and he made a shitload more money than these guys do, even when he was starting out, and has now retired, financially secure.