Corporate corruption hurting us all
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By Jordan Gustin
Here’s a riddle. How does Congress solve a problem in America? They throw taxpayer money at it and hope it sticks. Since a riddle is a solution shrouded in a mystery, this answer wasn’t much of a riddle. Congress’ nonchalant mismanagement of our money has long been known. They explain their reason for spending during times when saving is needed, but even the blind could see right past the greed and corruption that grins beneath.
When a CEO is laid off due to corruption in a corporate scandal, no one is surprised. When a congressman is put on trial for accepting gifts and is found guilty, no one is shocked. So why does everyone allow these CEOs and congressmen to handle their money and spend it freely? It happens because of the corrupt mindset most people unknowingly accept growing up.
From a young age, Americans are taught that if they become very rich, they have a right to hoard all of that money for themselves. They’ve earned it. We reward wealth in America.
The problem is that most of the rich people in our country haven’t worked very hard to get it. Why is it that we praise our teachers, police officers, fire fighters and military personnel as heroes but pay them next to nothing? Why allow our least respected paper-pushers and money-manipulators to make more money than anyone else simply by “knowing people who know people?” Haven’t the real heroes earned more than just respect?
Something is very wrong with this picture. It’s time for a change.
Democrats and Republicans alike have caused this problem. Corporate giants have paid our congressmen and congresswomen copious amounts of cash to vote in their favor. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were doing this for more than 10 years until they were taken over by the Federal Reserve in September along with other companies.
Then the issue of a bailout came up. Once again, Congress predictably infused cash into the bloodstream of the problem — $800 billion (and counting) to be precise. In the process of deciding whether or not to pass the bailout, Congress uncovered some shady characters.
Take for example Richard Fuld, former CEO of Lehman Brothers, who knew his company was going bankrupt and still decided to keep $480 million plus additional payouts. Still living in a $14 million oceanfront villa with a million-dollar art collection, he complained to Congress that he didn’t get any severance pay and that he lost more than $10 million. Congressman Waxman set Fuld straight by reminding everyone, “You made all this money taking risks with other people’s money.”
So why are we sitting on the sidelines simply yelling at people we’ve elected or allowed to rule our companies? What happened to the land of the free and equal? I’m fed up with it, and that’s no riddle.