One thought that kept running through my head during last year’s financial meltdown was that it was a good thing they didn’t manage to privatize Social Security. Thoughts like those should be reserved for nightmares.
Despite what the last administration says about the “longest sustained period of growth in history”, the economy was pretty much stagnant for a lot of people over the last eight years. Then we fell off the cliff. The whole world took the plunge with us. Those were scary times. I’m not ashamed to say I was afraid of what might happen.
A little over a year later and things look a bit better. We aren’t out of the woods yet. Paul Krugman has a piece out today saying we shouldn’t be surprised if the economy contracts next year. Despite cautions of problems yet to come, I don’t feel quite as afraid as I did when it all started.
I may not be afraid, but I’m still plenty worried. Perhaps that’s why I was so struck by something I read in a New York Times article about corporate board members.
The article starts off as pretty much a one-sided hit job on some people who were on the boards of corporations like Fannie Mae and Moody’s. Apparently, they are still on some other boards. They mention a few more board members by name and then the article goes into a look at some problems with the boardroom culture.
The article wasn’t particularly good. I’d almost given up when I read something that made me sputter before I started to berate my laptop. The quote below is what set me off.
“I think it is appropriate for institutions and other shareholders to look at the backgrounds of directors and other boards they have served on, but you need to interpret the data in the context of the specific circumstances of each board,” Mr. Wulff said. “If you vilify board members purely because the companies they oversee ultimately fail, you risk discouraging anyone from getting into a situation with any risk.”
“Risk? Risk!? You frackin’ idiot. These are our savings you’re talking about. We don’t want no stinkin’ risk.”
These masters of the universe drove the train off the tracks and didn’t learn a damn thing from it. A handful may have lost their jobs. The rest get billions in bonuses. And the rest of us are left holding half-empty piggy banks.
Sometimes I feel despair over where the country seems to be headed. If something doesn’t change soon we may yet see the breaking out of pitchforks and guillotines.