Sunday, February 1, 2009

Greed Is Galling

Disgorge, Wall Street Fat Cats
Published: January 31, 2009

Maureen Dowd's latest rant against greedy Wall Streeters picks up right where it left off from her last column. Now she is calling not only for show trials, but for disgorgement, which is not nearly as sexy as it sounds. She explains with a really great six word alliterative attack:

Disgorgement is when courts force wrongdoers to repay ill-gotten gains. And I’m ill at the gains gotten by scummy executives acting all Gordon Gekko while they’re getting bailed out by us.
And the invocation of Gordon Gecko, the archetypal greedy businessman played by former Dowd boyfriend Michael Douglas, is only the first and less interesting Movies With Maureen® moment. Dowd is impressed that Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank knows his old-time movies.
Treasury officials and Barney Frank are dubious about recouping bonuses. “Paulson let the cat out of the bag,” Frank said of Henry Paulson, Geithner’s predecessor, “and it can’t be gotten back.”

But aren’t taxpayers shareholders in these corporations now, and can’t shareholders sue or scream “You misspent my money!” like Judy Holliday?

“In ‘The Solid Gold Cadillac,’ ” said Frank, who knows the movie.

“We got some preferred shares,” he mused, “but I don’t think we could sue on that basis.”
The Solid Gold Cadillac is a 50s era morality story set amidst crooked defense contractors that are bilking the government. capsulizes it thus:
Judy Holliday shines as an idealistic stockholder who uncovers corruption at the top rung of a major corporation in this lighthearted romantic comedy.
Even better, it also won an Oscar for Best Costume Design. For those of us not as tuned in, we can catch it Monday afternoon on Turner Classic Movies.

Speaking of awards, the clear winner in Most Over-Used Crossword Clue™ category is now held by “lacunae”.
Following fast on Geithner’s tax lacunae, Tom Daschle’s nomination hit a pothole when he had to pay $140,000 in back taxes he owed mostly for three years’ use of a car and a driver provided by a private equity firm.
After an eight year absence from Dowd’s vocabulary, she has used it four times in the past year, most notably here and here. But, we do get one really good double Alliteration Alert®:
Some Obama policy makers still buy into the notion that if they’re too strict, these economic royalists, to use F.D.R.’s epithet, might balk at the bailout, preferring perks over the prospect of their banks going belly-up.
And Maureen buries in body of the column the best rallying cry so far:
Spare the rod, spoil the jackal.
Because it's not the bears and bulls on Wall Street you have to worry about, it's the jackals and vultures.

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