Five Things: Fat Cat Bankers, the Pimps of Wall Street
President Obama says he didn't run for office to be helping out "fat cat bankers".
"I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street."
-- President Barack Obama, 60 Minutes, December 13, 2009
"I ain't a playin' the whore to no man," the preacher Fritz Linkhorn famously declares on page one of Nelson Algren's novel, A Walk on the Wild Side, even though the question itself hadn't been posed by anyone. Last night on 60 Minutes President Barack Obama made a similar declaration, though he limited the pimps in the matter to Wall Street fat cats, even though, like Linkhorn, the question hadn't been posed by anyone.
Nevermind the fact that the Securities & Investment industry collectively paid the president's 2008 presidential campaign more than $14 million, nearly twice what was paid to Senator John McCain's campaign, or that Goldman Sachs (GS) singlehandedly contributed nearly $1 million to his campaign, just a shade less than the amount paid to McCain by Goldman, Merrill Lynch (BAC), Citigroup (C), Morgan Stanley (MS) and JP Morgan (JPM) combined.
The message was clear: President Obama ain't a playin' the whore to no banker. Not on 60 Minutes anyway.
If the question wasn't posed in its precise exactitude last night by 60 Minutes' Steve Kroft, the fact that the president chose to address it at all, even in subtext, is evidence enough of the weird hyperbolic anger chamber in which we find ourselves simmering these days. Mutant investment bank/ holding companies like Goldman Sachs are now more hated by the general public than one-armed auto mechanics and used car salesmen.
Remember when banking used to be considered a profession? Ho ho, it's a trick question. Banking has never been a "profession," not any more than online poker can be considered a sport. It's an activity. Money changes hands. Eventually, after the other players either lose all their money or tire of playing, a winner is declared. Sometimes the stakes are higher than at others. When they creep up to the point where fear grips even the hearts of the innocent & unaffiliated, then it's time to mash a few fingers, lower the ante, and cap the maximum bets.
Which is what's happening right now. After the heat dies down, we'll find plenty of good reasons to up the ante, peel back the bet limits, and gorge ourselves again on risk.
"It's been a year since the big financial firms blew a hole in the economy and took down the jobs, wages, pensions, and homes of millions of people. They would have gone down too, devoured by their own greed, were it not for the taxpayer bailout."
-- Bill Moyers, Bill Moyers Journal, December 11, 2009
Whether or not you agree with Bill Moyers is relevant only to country club memberships, cocktail parties, and dinner invitations, especially if you agree with him. In other words, if you disagree, so what? You're probably a fat cat banker anyway and no one cares what you think, at least not in public, because you never know who may be watching.
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