Christmas in another three days. All of my kids will be here. All of them healthy and employed, and from all outward appearances, happy, thank God. I wonder just how many fathers get to say that about their grown children this Christmas. The times are tough. Christmas is going to be lean for millions of Americans. 2009 is looming up as a terrible year for the economy, both in the U.S. in Europe, and elsewhere. which means the little people everywhere are going to get squeezed even more than they're being squeezed right now.
With this as backdrop, herewith three economy-connected stories:
1. First off, a look at what's been happening to some of the bailout money that Hank Paulson and Ben Barnacke told us was vital to keep the sky from falling on our heads.* Well, $1.8 billion--that's billion--has been handed over to rescued banks' executives in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits. It's as if nothing happened for these guys. Their gravy train is still streaking down the tracks. Mind you, the banks we're talking about here were the ones so poorly managed they had to be propped up with rescue money. So the guys getting all this money are the morons who ran their banks into the ground.
2. Speaking of morons, guess who just got a raise for their outstanding service and performance, not just in handling this economic crisis but in skillfully tackling all the problems of the last eight years? And at the most austere time for Americans in a couple of generations? Congress. That's right, boys and girls. They're giving themselves a $4,700 hike; it'll cost us taxpayers an additional $2.5 million now to pay these bastards. It's even more slimy than you might think: Congress arranged some time ago to get their pay hikes automatically. (That was to avoid having to vote themselves raises out in the open.) During these troubled times, they had a chance to do the right thing. No way. An Arizona Democrat introduced a bill to forgo the raises for next year. It got 34 co-sponsors, but it never got out of committee. So much for concern about tough times.
3. Foreclosure rates were up 25 percent in October. By the end of the year, over a million bank-owned houses will be on the market, and that's about a third of all the houses up for sale in the country.
*I recently read the best piece yet that I've seen on the collapse of Wall Street. I highly recommend it to you other economic dumbos that may be reading this. It's lengthy, but well worth it.