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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 2, 2009 / 8 Shevat 5769

Who's your tiger?

By Mitch Albom


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It was the wastebasket.


That did it for me.


No, you can't justify $87,000 for a rug and you can't justify $35,000 for a commode — yes, a commode — but you really, really can't explain $1,400 for a wastebasket.


Made out of parchment.


Who buys a wastebasket that can catch fire faster than the trash inside it?


These were just some of $1.22 million decorating expenses incurred by John Thain, the former chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch, who was ousted after merging with Bank of America for hiding last-quarter losses of around $15 billion.


Fifteen billion in losses?


That's a lot of wastebaskets.


Yet that didn't stop Thain from whining about his dismissal, it didn't stop him from seeking a $10 million bonus for himself, and it didn't stop him from rushing out billions — yes, again, billions — in bonuses for his executives even as he was taking billions of our taxpayer money for a bailout.


Honestly. Where do you begin with this guy?

TRYING TO JUSTIFY THINGS
Let's begin here, with Thain's lame attempt to explain himself in an interview with CNBC.


When a reporter asked why he felt a need to redecorate the office after inheriting it from his predecessor in late 2007, Thain said this:


"Well, heh, um, his office was very different, uh, than, uh, the, the general decor of, uh, Merrill's offices. Uh, it really would have been, uh, very difficult, uh, for, uh, me to use it in the form that it was in."


The "uh's" say it all. Come on. Just how bad could an office of a Merrill Lynch CEO have been? Were there dead animals in there? Dry rot? Mold?


"So in an environment where jobs are being cut and clearly salaries are being cut and the firm is reporting all of these losses," the CNBC reporter asked, "did it occur to you at some point ... I'd better to put this off?"


"Remember," Thain shot back, "this was back in, it really started in December of '07, so the financial industry hadn't melted down yet. I had every expectation that Merrill Lynch would be a large, successful company."


So that would have justified $1.22 million on decorating. Because profits would be up. Stock price would be high. And people like Thain could do whatever they wanted to do, no such thing as excess, he could order an $18,000 George IV desk because, after all, he was a king himself, wasn't he?


And therein lies the problem. Even as he has being beaten in the media like a rug on a clothesline, Thain (whose corporate nickname was once I-Robot) doesn't get why he can't still be a Master of the Universe, where CEO's rule the game because they're smarter, faster and, doggone it, richer than the rest of us.


Of course, Thain ran off for a ski vacation when news emerged that his company lost billions. So I guess "braver" isn't one of his adjectives.

MAKE AN EXAMPLE OF ALL OF 'EM
Now, Thain is hardly the only CEO dipped in a sense of privilege. True, he was paid a whopping $83 million in 2007, and stood to earn as much as $120 million last year, so you'd think he could have purchased his own $16,000 coffee table.


Instead, when things went sour, he still wanted his bonus. He blamed the economy for the losses. Of course, he never credited the economy when everything was shooting up. Then it was somehow just his brilliance.


Or maybe it was the commode.


Either way, he needs to be held up and lambasted. Sure, he points to other companies, he claims this is par for the course in Wall Street, he wonders why pick on him?


Which reminds me a scene movie in "Stand By Me" where a young hero pulls a gun on a gang of thugs led by Kiefer Sutherland. Sutherland smirks and says, "What are you gonna do, shoot all of us?"


And the kid says, "No ... only you."


For now, begin with Thain. Shame him, deride him, hold him up, and them move on to the next guy who does this, because the spineless nature of these guys will quickly emerge: They all want to be rich. None of them wants to be humiliated.


We have endured this kind of disgusting behavior before (remember Tyco's Dennis Kozlowski and his $6,000 shower curtain?), but in this New Depression, it can't be tolerated and it can't sloughed off.


Remember, it's our money being given out. And $1 million could be 20 middle-class jobs, 20 hardworking people who wouldn't have to sell their homes or pull their kids from college — just so the Thains of the world can throw their trash into parchment.

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