27.9.08

What the Wall Street titans "earned"?

Over 20 years ago I "temped" on the third shift at Abbott Laboratories. My job was to use an experimental mold to stamp out pieces for a proposed product. This mold shot out just one piece at a time and cost $5,000 (in 1980 dollars).In short, by not paying full attention I set the mold into the press wrong and with a single press of a button crushed their proposed innovation into a paperweight. For my stupidity I was fired.


What I want to know is where is my compensation package? Heck, I only crushed a mold, not tanked a record sized bank. Doesn't frugality count for something?





If Wall Street executives want part of the $700 billion bailout proposal, they'll need to accept some curbs on their pay. The details have yet to be settled, but Congress and legions of irate constituents managed to push Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson into accepting some restrictions. Most likely they'll have to give up lucrative exit packages from filing firms.






And what were those pay packages exactly? Here's a partial list put together from Forbes -



  • Lloyd Blankfein, CEO Godlman Sachs, $74 million last year;

  • Richard Fuld, CEO Lehman Bros., $71.9 million, last year and $354 million over the last five years;

  • James E. Cayne, former CEO Bear Stearns, $49.31 million over the last two years;

  • Martin J Sullivan, former CEO of AIG $39.6 million in the last three years, with an exit bonus of $19 million after leading the company to two record loss quarters in a row;


Another fun fact from this article is that in 1989 CEO's were paid 71 times more than their average employee. In 2007 they made 275 times more.


This article goes on to discuss ways to make sure CEOs treat their companies with more long term care by not just go for the short term. The author suggests that bonuses not be paid quarterly but be spread out to respond to multiple year company performance.


All in all the author is quite gentile in his suggestions. My own suggestions are more radical and draconian though, as befits an opinion piece. Frankly, I believe we as a country should ask ourselves one basic question - W.W.C.D. - What Would Calligula Do?


With Calligula in mind, I have a few suggestons -



  1. Confiscate all their lands and properties to pay for the war effort

  2. draft their wives, sons and daughters into Nevada brothels to help offset bailout costs

  3. appoint a couple of their polo ponies to the reconsituted board of directors

  4. send the lot of them to work as farm laborers somewhere where it is hot, sunny and humid


No Banker Left Behind The Procession

Tags: | | | | | | | | | |

6.9.08

St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married...

Most of the coverage of the events in Saint Paul focused on one of two things – the RNC and the people protesting it. Yes, those are important things, the most important things, but they aren't the only things.


There is a certain light-hearted entertainment at virtually all of at these events if you know where to look for it. In the case of the RNC in Saint Paul the place to gather for lighthearted entertainment was at Rice Park, just outside where the delegates entered the secured Xcel Energy Center.


In the center MSNBC had erected a huge stage and set from which to broadcast it's convention coverage. People crowded around the fence guarding the set, waving signs, cheering and vying for the hats and other goodies the network's assistants doled out.


But that was not the show. The show is found all around – people dressed in costumes, passing out literature, selling mementos and performing street theater.


From the Northeast corner of the park - where the Missle Dick Chicks enchant passerbys and police alike with their stunning song, flowing dance and phallic costumes – to the southwest – where Vermin Supreme, a Presidential candidate whose campaign slogan is “Screw World Peace I Want a Pony,” lobbies delegates as before they enter the convention this is a irony encouraged zone.


In the middle of a week of politics and police actions, Rice Park provided a welcome respite.


St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married... St. Paul... Where Politics and Street Theater were married...

Tags: | | | | | |

Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane...

note: This story is not timely. For that alone it should be neglected. However, as I started with phone reports from the Thursday march turned mayhem it is only fair that I finish up what I started. 




"Hey Dude, Where's My Protest????"


Those weren't the words he used, but that was basically the question a protester asked at the beginning of the rally. What was estimated to be a 50,000 person gathering on Sunday, that turned out to be 10,000 person march on Monday now had a head count of about 1,000 - and that's if you included the media.


Due to the wonders of technology and the drive of people anxious to cover what they saw as important, I would not be surprised to discover that this was the best covered protest ever. From television crews, to newspaper people to erstwhile bloggers everyone had a mic, a camera and an angle. It was a credit to the First Amendment... and unfortunately for the marchers it turned out to be the high point of their day


Organizers started the rally at about 4pm. The plan was to roll through the list of speakers then get the crowd of about 700 (media not counted) to march crosstown to the RNC's arena. Before the speakers even started a phalanx of police, outfitted in riot gear equipped with big sticks and pepper spray, formed three rows behind the stage area.


Things started going afoul for protesters even before the rally ended. Far to the right and out from the stage, what looked like Gen. Norman Schwartskoff's personal golf cart rolled up to the fringes of the crowd. A man with a loudspeaker system told people they had to disperse by 5pm (roughly 10 minutes hence) or they would be guilty of violating their parade permit. 


And that would end up resulting in arrest for illegal assembly.


Hurry up and wait... hurry up and wait


Despite any warnings, the organizers were determined to not be dispersed - they had meant to march to the Xcel Energy Center and police instructions were not going to stop them. So when the speakers wrapped up the crowd started the trek southwards towards downtown and the assembled Republicans.


Police intercepted them at the first attempt to cross a street, but the marchers diverted west to John Ireland Blvd and the bridge over I-94. At the very center of the bridge marchers encountered a human wall of police coming from the south. The front lines were made of cops in full riot gear, three tiers deep. Behind them were mounted police and behind those bicycle police. A command vehicle brought up the rear.


There followed roughly 30 most tense and surreal minutes. Police held the bridge, instructing marchers to leave. In response, a body of marchers front and center held a sit down strike. Police clad in riot gear and gas masks, manning fire-extinguisher-sized cannisters of pepper spray and M-203 tear gas grenade launchers faced off against several hundred protesters.


Who knows what it was that finally broke the stalemate? My best guess is that a few hundred protesters anxious to find a way around the blockade decided to loop around to the east. Since John Ireland was blocked, maybe Cedar Street was unattended was the logic.


At any rate, the marchers retreated north and blocked the intersection at Marion and St. A.nthony. Again, there was another stand off. At this point, the police formed a crescent blockade - not allowing foot traffic to go south or east. If you wanted to leave you had to do it by heading in the opposite direction of the RNC.


By this time protesters were feeling bolder. Not having seen any macing or manhandling on the bridge individuals felt they had discovered all the police were ready to do that day. With a false sense of security - or maybe it was naivety - some began walking the perimeter of the police line, talking, taunting, flashing a peace sign.


And still nothing happened.


There were stories during the Chicago riots in the 68 Democratic Convention that one in every 15 people were plants from the police department. These agent provocateurs were to whip the protesters into a frenzy, leading them into illegal activity for which they could be arrested. It was almost nostalgic and quaint that the Saint Paul police would plant one of their own in this crowd.


Now, no actual proof was given that this was a police plant sent to stir up the natives and prompt arrests. Sure, this could have been just your average hulking, WWF-looking,  mohawked, Tourettes-addled maniac, screaming and spitting from within the ranks of the marchers. But no one at this corner was buying it.


At first feared by the marchers - this was a big and seemingly violent boy - he became an object of ridicule, universally regarded by the marchers as a police plant. Eventually his antics became tedious even to the police, who cuffed and took him away.


Over an hour had passed and the marchers began to be bored by the lack of progress. People were also getting hungry and thirsty. People were beginning to peel away from the crowd. Even the police presence was scaled back. The assault-style vehicles that officers with grenade launchers had been standing on had left. It seemed that things were simply destined to peter out before sunset.


Then the whooping and hollering from the North started up. The marchers who had looped back to Ceder and 12th were apparently returning. Perhaps the police had thinned out here in order to stop them there. After being blocked in the east – and suffering some arrests according to another marcher on a cell phone – they had returned to reinforce.


The meridian sprinklers along the road were set to go at sunset, and here came a couple hundred protesters, running and dancing through them, to join their mates. They seemed hopeful that increased numbers would result in them getting to the Xcel.


Their confidence it would turn out was sadly misplaced.





They only come out at night...





With the increased numbers came a change in direction. Protesters decided to try a more roundabout route – to get south they would first head north. So with the sun finally setting the band of brothers and sisters headed west to Marion Street then south to University Avenue. From there they headed east... but they didn't head very far.


Protesters on foot may have moved quickly, but police on bikes, horses and motor vehicles moved faster. Unfortunately or maybe most fortuitously, old citizen journalists don't move fast at all. I'd stayed behind to keep an eye on the rear guard of the protesters, thinking the police would pick them off from behind. But nothing like that happened.


Struggling to catch up to the front of the march I cut through through the broad alley just to the south of University Street. Unseen from this point, the marchers and police began their clash.


The pops sounded familiar, like the backfires from an old car – one with the point gap set too close. They kept firing arrhythmically. And in the deep twilight between the buildings lining the alley you could see the yellow-orange flashes and billowing clouds of smoke. The police had begun firing flash-bangs aka concussion grenades. The air smelled sharp with them. Later, a protester fleeing the scene would tell me the police also fired rubber bullets and tear gas, a claim I did not verify.


The flash-bangs hitting on University Street signaled the end of the march and the beginning of the melee. Protesters fled in every direction, often pursued and sometimes caught by police. If front of me a cop on a bike flashed across Marion Street and onto a path behind some apartments. There was a yell.


A couple moments later I heard a small knot of people complaining that the man police had pinned on the ground ought be let go. One of the men, a protester, told me that a group of four police – one, he said was undercover - had used excessive force to subdue the man. The fellow on the ground had been tackled, sucker punched, had his head yanked back and been maced at close range. Each officer, the man claimed, had performed one of these tasks.


With the area in chaos, protesters dispersing and police on an arrest feeding frenzy I decided it was time for me to exit. The MacDonalds at the corner was locked down, according to the security guard outside it. He directed me to the White Castle a block or two down.


Relaxing minutes later with my chicken sliders and a drink I was given time to rest. I watched as people went in and out. A table of three young white men – protesters, they told me before leaving - grabbed a box of White Castles and sodas and grubbed out. Being chased and maced is thirsty work after all and being the only fast food open in the area made White Castle the Official After Mob Action Caterer.





Assorted Things You Might Want to Know...


According to the Star Tribune, the daily paper in the Twin Cities, 716 people were arrested over the week's protests. While I don't have hard numbers on this I believe 200+ were arrested on Thursday in the action described above. Over the week there were 17 charged felonies and two more felony investigations.


While most people know that lefty journalist Amy Goodman was arrested with two of her producers you might want to know that another 27 journalists – from College Newspaper people to local “real” reporters – were also arrested. This again from the Star Tribune. Currently, there is a petition to get all charges against journalists dropped.





Assorted things you might want to see...


Here's a video you might want to see of a news cameraman being arrested 


Here's the most damning blast against police handling of the week. In this linked video a FOX news reporter comments that this is the most like a police state he has ever seen in Saint Paul.


Finally, here is a link to a videotape by the Star Tribune that captures what went on that Thursday. This is a more complete collection of images than I was able to assemble. 





Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane... Welcome to the St. Paul Asylum for the Politically Insane...

Tags: | | | | | | | |