Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dear Andrew

Ahh… poor pathetic AIG has now become the poster-child for corporate greed. They have been ordered to suspend their $600 million bonus fund. Poor Mr. Sullivan. And you know about poster children. The real victims are not even camera-ready. They’re festering, stewing in greed, still lunching in Armani while they consider passing on the private jet for Christmas vacation. Call me, Andrew Cuomo. Call me.

First of all, I’d like to know what kind of accounting principles Henry Paulson is using. The Goldman Sachs kind, apparently. As for me, before I’d lend a friend my last $20, I’d have to be pretty sure he doesn’t have a few Ferraris in the garage. Here’s a hint: you can’t spell Goldman without G-O-L-D. Call me.

I’ve got a notice from HRA in my mailbox. The second one. Apparently someone shared my tax return with them. The one that was so pathetic, I didn’t qualify for an economic stimulus check. I was counting on that, to buy my teenage son a graduation laptop. The IRS assumes anyone in my income bracket is receiving welfare benefits, and no matter what they give me, my thrift-shop buying is not going to stimulate the economy. I am forced to submit my 1040 to receive my Child Health Plus package (thank you Hillary!). This year, as last, I am too poor to be billed. I also have a brain and another commodity which is not only obsolete but worthless in the current atmosphere: a conscience. I have an apartment. I have my guitars and I know how to use them. I am struggling, day by day, week by week, to keep up payments. I had a retirement fund. This has been decimated to the point where I must live to an age of invalidity in order to collect what I’d put in. I don’t have a cellphone, Andrew, but I’ve got Verizon. Call me. It's local. I don’t receive benefits.

And how about this? I owe no one. I have no debt. I have no nice or even acceptable clothing, no heels on my shoes, a near-empty pantry. I do have mice. In my funky old prewar building which is now on the Corcoran list of Luxury Residences…due to endless renovations by the AIG and Bear Stearns unduly rewarded…I have mice, I have leaks, I have holes. Despite the fact that they are manipulating our old co-op like an overpriced Biotech company and demanding millions from shareholders…they cannot seem to find the cash in their pocket to patch the most recent hole they made in my ceiling. One of them even sued the co-op because we complained about his illegal and damaging renovation. Does the Attorney General's office respond? The government does not intervene in the corporation I live in. Not until it's bankrupt and in ruins. If I were being played by Steve McQueen, I’d eat the mice.

Let me say something else. Being hungry makes you cranky. It makes you less generous with sympathy. Especially sympathy for the rich. What about me, Presidential candidates? What about the proud hard-working poor…we who scarcely pay more than self-employment tax, who don’t ‘burden the system’, who share our stale bread with the homeless guys on the corner, who walk for a couple of days each month to postpone the cost of the monthly Metro card into the next billing cycle?

Yesterday I walked 3 miles to hand-deliver a birthday card because it saved me 42 cents. I pay my gas bill every 3 months because the finance charge is less than the stamps I’d have to use. I know about 'cutting the fat'. So how about hiring me to balance the AIG budget? I’m available. I’m smart. I don’t use the word deficit. I work per diem. Cheap. You can be sure I’d have found a good use for the $600 million. You can be sure their customers whose homes have been destroyed by hurricanes and floods would have a little cash.

Every morning I listen to the baffled BBC interviewees on the state of the world markets. The whole economy is tanked, let’s face it. My life is not much different than it was… yes, I’m losing work. I’m still terrified. Next week I must factor in Halloween candy. Do food stamps cover candy? Is that 'kosher'? Certainly not a sound nutritional investment. But soon it will be Christmas. A tree? I’m hungry. Eggs are out of my budget now. Rice is a luxury. I’ve stood outside a café several times this month with my hoodie on, waiting for them to put out leftover bread. Pride? Do I have pride? Why do my neighbors flash cash at the doormen when their Global Equity positions have caused suffering on a global and inequitable scale? Is that pride? Call me, Andrew.

Do they really want to restore CONFIDENCE? If I were getting Jon Stewart’s salary, I’d laugh. Here’s my question: Why are they letting the criminals jury their own trial? Never in all my educational or historical experience, except possibly the most corrupt African nations…was this kind of thing going on. Is this the new version of justice? Let’s face it… if someone kidnaps your child, holds him ransom for everything you own…are you going to let him go when he’s caught in the next heinous act? Are you going to let him keep what he stole? It’s not like I’m asking for anything except simple, Biblical Justice. Human Decency. The Law.

Why are they not rounding up the criminals and corralling them in their own bank vaults? Why is no one staging some large-scale political version of Dog Day Afternoon? I live in a building with these people who essentially spent their co-workers’ pensions on lunches. And they have money. They are all being paid. They are living on huge accounts built with massive bonuses.

Come on Andrew…you can do better. Every single one of these guys needs to put it back. And no, John McCain, this is not SPREADING THE WEALTH AROUND, this is putting back what you stole. It was a long party… and so much of the money has been spent, those bastards. Punishment? Yes, they deserve it. On a global scale. But first? Make them give it back. Every single penny. I’ll do the books. I’m great at it. I’ve don’t even know what a vacation looks like. No expensive junkets for my team. We'll eat stale bread for lunch. Hey...I’m living in a Corcoran-designated Luxury Residence just footsteps from Central Park and putting a kid through college on a poverty-level income. I know how to put extra notches in a belt. Call me.

As for the AIG guys and the other Investment Wizards: Let them eat mice.

P.S.: Does it occur to anyone that if we hadn’t been so obsessed with crucifying Spitzer for personal indiscretion, someone might have had an eye on the true Satans of Wall Street?

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