This morning, as I work, I listen to the Senate hearings on the bailout, I check Twitter commentary, I look at a few blogs. Here's what I think We the People must consider when we put the parameters around the $700 billion bailout.
- My experience in providing client service to investment banker types — people with investment bank backgrounds — is that they look out for Number One in ways that most of us would never imagine. Investment bankers do not follow rules, whether we're talking business practices or good manners. Investment bankers are animals. As a group, the only thing that keeps them in line is a big stick. Congress MUST put strict parameters around these guys we are putting in charge of the $700 billion. And we MUST go after the executive compensation packages
- How did we respond to the Enron mess? By neutering the accounting profession. That, folks, was a bone that Wall Street and its cronies in Washington threw to the American public. And it was a predictor that this mess would happen to us. The destruction of Arthur Andersen was a major sign that these guys are all about finding a scapegoat to take the hit for their own sloppy, self-serving business practices. Not changing the way they did business — not learning from the Enron debacle — not interested in hearing from those with expertise that they don't have but that is germane to their activities. Now, we are left with no watchdogs, either in the private sector or the public, to tell us when the cronies have concocted a risk-laden, byzantine set of financial instruments. It is unconscionable that not one person in a leadership position in industry, government or academia did not look at this maze and tell us what they're telling us now: that this confluence of financial instruments was not nor ever was sustainable.
- The reason I turned on CNBC in the first place this morning was to wait for a segment on a client that was taped three weeks ago. Instead, my attention, by necessity, had to be diverted to the dirty job of fixing a problem created by an elite few — most of whom have never invented anything or bought and sold anything you could hold in your hands. Elitists who never had a summer job on a farm or in a factory, who, with their fancy pedigrees, dictate to the rest of us what is success. This mess is not only something we must clean up, it is sucking the air out of one of the stars of the American way: real business, based on real relationships and transactions. Let's get the mess cleaned up and let's make sure it doesn't deplete us or distract us professionally or emotionally.
Email, call, SHOUT at your representatives in Washington. Yes, we want transparency. But we want punishment. Consequences for bad actions, whether they were intentional or not. Do we let people off a murder charge just because they didn't intend to do it? No. The deviant brains who mixed this cocktail of financial instruments need to go to Man Jail. Their property confiscated. Their cash appropriated to the bailout. I want heads to roll.