Man is a rope stretched between the animal and the Chairman of Goldman Sachs.-- F.W. Nietzsche, Chief Process Improvement Visioneer,
"Overman, Overman & Zarathustra"
Almost exactly one year ago, this was the national mood:
It was the shattering, nation-crippling End of Days for Empire of the Supermen; those Masters of the Universe, who had promised...
...in exchange for unchecked power and no supervision, like Rumplestiltskin, they would forever to spin shitty strip malls and abandoned corn cribs into gold, because what with working 65 hours a week, raising kids an keeping up with Gray's Anatomy, we were busy enough -- too busy, really -- to pay close enough attention to the incomprehensibly complex domains of foreign or fiscal policy....and who instead very nearly destroyed the world.
And near the center of this civilization-threatening feculent hurricane were men like John A. Thain, an "irresistibly textbook example of the bastard love child of obscene excess and arrogant entitlement":
Creep of the Week -- John A. Thain
Thain's behavior has been so cartoonish as to suggest he's a soulless concoction of Marvel Comics. A Wall Street villain: Thain - the bond-shark who spends more on a commode to festoon his office than most Americans earn in a year!
Even James Post, a management professor at Boston University, suggested that Thain was more of an avatar than a human when talking to the AP about him and other Wall Street CEOs who spent $18 billion on year-end bonuses after getting $350 billion in taxpayer dollars to bailout their failing financial companies, "Thain is a symbol of the species. It's a breed that I think is going to have to change its habits, at least for a time."
Almost one year ago -- after the markets collapsed and his grotesque excesses stopped being treated as cute by the media and starting being treated as obscene -- Thain was finally kicked to the curb.
Albeit with a 24-carat gold boot:
Former Merrill CEO Thain resigns from BofA
Executive under fire for spending $1.22 million on an office remodel
updated 11:04 a.m. CT, Fri., Jan. 23, 2009
NEW YORK - John Thain resigned under pressure from Bank of America on Thursday after reports he rushed out billions of dollars in bonuses to Merrill Lynch employees in his final days as CEO there, while the brokerage was suffering huge losses and just before Bank of America took it over.
The bonuses were paid before Bank of America’s acquisition of Merrill became final on Jan. 1, and while Bank of America was privately telling the government that Merrill was losing so much money that the deal might fall through unless it could get more federal bailout money.
Coincidentally, almost exactly one year ago, Corrupt Ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich
lost his job for being a sociopath and a crook, while at the same time I lost mine because...uh, well, frankly, for no reason anyone has ever explained to me. After nearly a decade of exemplary work and glowing reviews, my job ended with a lotta shrugs, a lotta embarrassed glances at the ceiling, and a lotta sentences that began with, "You just gotta understand that, um, stuff...y'know...just...sorta...happens."
So, one year later, in the depths of the worst economic catastrophe in 70 years, how are we poor under-employed bastard doing?
Me? Not great, but could be worse. No one is shooting at me, and I'm going broke slowly enough to be able to enjoy the ride (This is not a fund-raising pitch [that will be coming very soon]; just me using my own strangely-synchronous circumstances as a handy data point.)
The sociapathic crook who used to run my state? Well, on the upside, indictment-wise, I'm doing 100% better than Milorad. On the downside, no one has yet offered me a ridiculously sweet book deal, hooked me up with a lovely gig on WLS radio, invited me to make the rounds of the nation's talk shows, or offered me a massive payday for appearing on a crappy reality teevee show.
And the rapacious, amoral greedhead who helped to nearly nuke the global economy back to the Age of Barter and Beads? (From NPR):
John Thain, Symbol Of Wall St Excess, Back On TopAll of which leaves me asking the same, old question: How did Hunter Thompson's famous observation on the state of the music business --
By Frank James
John Thain, the controversial former head of Merrill Lynch who helped make that company's acquisition by Bank of America happen but was forced out soon afterwards, has been named chief executive of CIT.
Thain became a symbol of Wall Street's excesses because of his demand, later dropped, for a $10 million bonus in 2008 during a time when Merrill was imploding. Then there was his rushing through of about $4 billion in bonuses to Merrill executives before the completion Bank of America's completion of the Merrill acquisition at a time when Merrill was booking huge losses.
And as if that weren't enough, Thain really stepped into it with the $1.2 million refurbishing of his offices, including a $35,000 commode, a fancy word for a toilet. Thain later apologized for what he called a lapse in judgment.
"...a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs."
-- become and everyday, workaday American reality?
And arriving at the same, sad answer: the Two Commandments ™, my friends.
1: There is a Club.
2: You are not in it.
The Two Commandments ™.