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Mole's Progressive Democrat

The Progressive Democrat Newsletter grew out of the frustration of the 2004 election. Originally intended for New York City progressives, its readership is now national. For anyone who wants to be alerted by email whenever this newsletter is updated (usually weekly), please send your email address and let me know what state you live in (so I can keep track of my readership).

Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

I am a research biologist in NYC. Married with two kids living in Brooklyn.

  • Help end world hunger
  • Saturday, January 29, 2011

    America's Real Entitlement Society

    Let's say you do a lousy job at work. Let's say the effectiveness of
    what you are in charge of has gone down by 50% over the past year.
    Would you expect a big fat bonus?

    Well at Goldman Sachs that is exactly what goes on. The top executives
    get big fat bonuses even as the business they run tanks.

    The latest example is Goldman Sachs. From BBC News:

    Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs has reported net income of $2.39bn
    (£1.49bn) for the fourth quarter of 2010, down 52% from a year ago.

    The poor result was expected, following weak numbers from Citigroup on Tuesday.

    Now despite this poor performance the head of Goldman Sachs got millions of dollars in pay raises and bonuses (both cash and stock). From another BBC article:

    Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs Group has tripled the base salary of
    chief executive Lloyd Blankfein to $2m (£1.3m), up from $600,000.

    And company filings show he was also awarded shares currently worth
    $12.6m, a 42% hike from the the stock bonus he received for 2009.

    This is the deep problem with the American economy. The very rich
    reward themselves even for failure while forclosing houses and cutting
    benefits for the people who actually do the real work. And then the
    fat cat executives like Lloyd Blankfein seem so confused when the rest
    of us get angry at their greed and sense of entitlement. It is the
    very rich who demand bonuses even when they fail and demand tax
    breaks even when there is a deficit who are the real problem, not the
    American workers who want basic healthcare and fair pay.


    Anonymous Trent342 said...

    I agree with you to some extent, but not entirely. I know a very successful South Korean immigrant who didn't speak English and had absolutely nothing when he arrived here as a child. He created a world changing, extremely complex fiber optic switch that allowed for any type of data to be sent over existing telephone wires. His small company was bought for over a billion dollars, making him hundreds of millions of dollars. He was never after the money, he was just so passionate for engineering, and as he said "the money was a side benefit", much of which he gives away, and really doesn't spend lavishly at all. He worked hard, but was passionate about everything he did: he spent 7 years in the Navy, had to obtain scholarships for all his schooling, and spendt years mastering reliability engineering(phd). I believe that since his passion led to something that really added a great benefit to everyone in society (i.e. not having to replace every power line everywhere, a cost most likely affecting everyone's cost for access to TV, Internet, other data..) , he completely deserved the financial benefit. Where I do agree with you is when people go to wall street to simply fulfill their greed for money, with no true passion for pursuing finance other than for the financial gain. The South Korean I was referring to said something once that really holds true: he said that people that go to wall street for the money, who have no passion or goals to help better the finance world, add no "real" value to society. There are people on wall street that truly having innovating passion that does add value to society and should be rightfully rewarded, but the ones just looking to add value to their pockets should not be making more than doctors, who are paid far less for the passion to save lives, something that indisputably adds value to society. Overall I think context is important with the "value" someone brings to society. The iPod made Steve Jobs very rich, but do you think he didn't earn it? I really enjoy the product he created as a music lover myself. I guess what it comes down to is if someone is doing something just for money, or someone is doing something they have passion for, and does something that adds true "value" to society.

    2:52 AM  

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