Thursday, February 26, 2009

Oh Bernie What Have You Done?

Oh Bernie. Bernie, Bernie. I'm sorry but he's a likable guy. I've been reading lots of profiles including one today in New York Magazine, and he's our very own version of P. T. Barnum. Smoke and mirrors. Dancing Girls. Grand gestures. He sold and we bought. He's the emblematic patron saint of all the base and greedy instincts in all of us. I have a designer bag on a credit card that now has a 25% APR. He's the macrocosm and I'm the microcosm. As above, so below.
Honestly, it's funny.
I support the President. I helped elect him into office. And the moment I heard the words bail out --- I knew it was fait accompli. Even though instinct told me that we were letting white collar criminals run the show and get away with murder. Part of me, would like to see the whole thing crash. From a strictly theoretical point of view, it would be interesting, no, fascinating, to watch how the "free market" would recreate itself. I bet even Allen Greenspan would learn a few things.
I fear that we have merely put an old financial model on life support. The other analogy that comes to mind is a kind of economic cannibalism--- taxpayers support failing businesses and banks so that taxpayers can reap the benefits (employment, annuities, real estate 401K's, etc.) of said institutions. Am I the only person in the room who thinks this is crazy? CEO's, CFO's and their ilk fucked up and fucked us. Bernie is just the show dog in a performance of major hitters. Bernie will probably go to jail, but there are many who won't.
Instead we are giving them money.
This is why I like Bernie. This is why, when I am feeling cynical and tough, I laugh with him and at him.
Illustration by Darrow for New York Magazine


  1. Hello- Simple and to the point. I agree do sort of have to smile at the guy.
    Hope all is well.

  2. This whole thing - not just Bernie M - has really screwed up my thinking. As the co-owner of a retail store I would (notice "would") have defined myself as a free market capitalist who thought "the market" was best left alone. Now I don't know what to think. Left to its own devices, the market swells with greedy bastards who invent ways to schtup people out of their money.
    If they are "free marketers" then why did they latch onto the government bail out.
    Best thing yet - who gets the bail out and who gets prison?
    Obama vs Bush - IMHO is mostly a case of same shit, different wrapper when it comes to the whole bail out deal. Obama's finace guy is a mentor of Bush's finance guy and they all rub each others privates under the table. Donkeys and Elephants get us divided and fighting over social issues (abottion, immigration, etc) and in the meantime have their collective hands so deep in our wallets (and up our asses) that we can barely walk. Can't wait to see who engineers the most profit from carbon credits and socialized medicine. (as a self-employed someone who pays big bucks for health insurance that covers diddly, I know something needs to be done, but do not know what.)
    Why did Goldman-Sachs live and Lehman Bros die?
    Sorry for the rant - my head hurts when I think about this stuff too long.