by Pa Rock
A couple of months ago the United States Congress, an organization that routinely sinks to the IQ level of its dumbest member, gave the worst Treasury Secretary in our nation's history, Hank Paulson (who is possibly too dumb to serve in Congress), a blank check for $700 billion to help him prop up our national economy. Congress literally threw the money at Paulson with nary a string attached, begging him to shovel it onto the problem.
For those of us who can't comprehend the enormity of $700 billion, look at it this way: $700 billion is the equivalent of winning one million dollars - 700,000 times! Or, to put it on a more personal perspective, $700 billion spread equally among the almost 306 million inhabitants of our country would come to nearly $2,300 for each man, woman, and child.
That sort of bailout might have worked, but the one engineered by Secretary Paulson has been a dismal failure. Half of the money, $350 billion, has already been spent - but with what result?
The Associated Press decided to poll the 21 banks that received at least $1 billion of bailout money. The AP asked four very simple questions of the banks: How much has been spent? What was it spent on? How much is being held in savings? And, what is the plan for the rest of the money?
Those questions should be no problem for America's largest financial institutions to answer. They routinely manage large amounts money, and they certainly expect their borrowers to be able to answer those same types of questions. The money does, after all, belong to the American people, so the big banks should be eager to let the taxpayers know how it is being spent.
None (zip, zero, nada) of the 21 banks gave specific answers to the Associated Press. Some of the banks said that they couldn't track where the money was going because they mixed it with their money! (I'm betting they said that with a straight face!)
When an employee of Bank of New York Mellon was asked about the $3 billion received by his financial institution, he replied, "We're choosing not to disclose that." Then trying to minimize the arrogance of his response, he added, "I just would prefer if you wouldn't say that we're not going to discuss those details."
So, $350 billion into the giveaway, there is no evidence that any of the money has been pumped back into our ailing economy. Homes are still falling into foreclosure, young people are still staying away from college because they can't afford the skyrocketing tuition, millions are still suffering from a lack of affordable health care, factories are still closing, people are still being laid off, and most of America is spending considerably less this holiday season.
We're in the crapper and Hank Paulson is leaning on the handle. If there's a bright spot beyond the bowl, it is the likely ability of bank executives to fund their bonuses this year. But they would probably prefer it if we wouldn't say that!