"Qu'ils mangent de la brioche."
Translation: "Let them eat rich, expensive, funny-shaped, yellow, eggy buns."
On Wednesday, Congress passed the $825 billion economic stimulus plan that is aimed at putting people to work in what some call a new New Deal, a reference to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's public works program in the 1930s and '40s.
Banks, automakers, even states. Industries, retailers, consumers: Across the board, the nation is hurting economically. On Monday alone, major U.S. firms announced a total of 62,000 job cuts as companies close stores and plants.
Despite crippling losses, multi-billion-dollar bailouts and the passing of some of the most prominent names in the business, employees at financial companies in New York, the now-diminished world capital of capital, collected an estimated $18.4 billion in bonuses for the year. That was the sixth-largest haul on record, according to a report released Wednesday by the New York State comptroller.
“I have no confidence that they intend or desire to change. These bankers got away with murder, and it’s obscene that close to nothing is being asked of financial institutions. I get incensed at the thought that a bank that’s getting billions of dollars in taxpayer money is out there buying fancy new airplanes.”
Senator Charles Levin
Citigroup had plans to get a new $50 million corporate jet, the exclusive Dassault Falcon 7X seating 12, after losing $28.5 billion in the past 15 months and receiving $345 billion in government investments and guarantees.
Former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain justified paying out large bonuses because "“If you don’t pay your best people, you will destroy your franchise."
While cutting payrolls and laying off people, Thain was planning a $1 million remodeling job of his office. The remodel included curtains for $28,000, a pair of chairs for $87,000, fabric for a “Roman Shade” for $11,000, Regency chairs for $24,000, six wall sconces for $2,700, a $13,000 chandelier in the private dining room and six dining chairs for $37,000, a “custom coffee table” for $16,000, an antique commode “on legs” for $35,000, and a $1,400 “parchment waste can.”
"The businesses that are shedding jobs to stay afloat, they can't afford inaction or delay. The workers who are returning home to tell their husbands and wives and children that they no longer have a job and all those who live in fear that their job will be next on the cutting blocks, they need help now."
"How will billions spent on school snack programs and repairs to the Smithsonian Institution stimulate the economy? How will $3 billion being spent for a prevention and wellness fund stimulate the economy? It is clear that this spending package has become a one-stop shop for every item on a spending agenda - a massive, unprecedented spending bill aimed to bypass the normal appropriations process and subsidize a broad range of existing and new government programs."
Congressman Joe Wilson
During our lunch walk discussion yesterday -- a time we dedicate to finding the answers to all things big and small -- the following question was raised:
"Why should my taxes dollars go to feed after-school snacks to some other parents' kid?"
Feel free to provide your answers to this question...