Little more than a year after taxpayers were forced to rescue Wall Street, the people responsible for its collapse are getting ready to receive a huge round of bonuses. For what — nearly destroying the American economy and plunging the nation into a painful recession from which it has still not recovered?
Goldman Sachs is expected to pay bonuses averaging about $595,000 apiece for 2009, one of the most profitable years ever for the firm. Over at JPMorgan Chase, the average bonus will be about $463,000. Americans who are not sharing in this undeserved gravy train -- particularly those out of a job or facing foreclosure -- are right to be incensed by this outrageous display of greed.
The financial industry argues that it needs powerful incentives to attract talent. Sure, but there is a time and a place for rewarding risk and innovation, and this is not it.
The banks and their employees have done little or nothing to justify bonuses that exceed the salary of the U.S. President, who gets $400,000, or the biggest banker of all -- Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who makes just under $200,000.
Insiders argue that the bonanza is justified because the bonuses represent a share of the profits for the firms on Wall Street, which had a pretty good year. Of course they did -- thanks to the taxpayers and the largesse of the Federal Reserve.
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