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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

October 9, 2008 at 5:02 PM

Financial bailout

Make Wall Street pay

Richard Fuld, chief executive of the now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers, received an estimated $350 million in compensation between 2000 and 2007? [“Lehman exec defends big bonuses,” News, Oct. 7.]

How can one person be worth more than a third of a billion dollars for seven years of work? Where do you sign up for such a position? I have a good job, and my employer might be upset, but I might consider switching jobs for that kind of pay increase.

Fuld claimed Lehman had a compensation committee that made sure the interests of the executives and employees were aligned with the shareholders’. Really? I suppose if Fuld had been paid only $5 million per year rather than $50 million, he would have defected to one of the other financial institutions that ended up in the same financial mess.

Somebody should ask those shareholders if they feel their interests were aligned by paying someone such a ridiculous amount of money, while running the company into the ground!

For his incompetence and irresponsible risk-taking, Fuld should be penalized rather than rewarded. The pain he has caused to his employees and stockholders is immense. He and the others who are responsible for today’s financial crisis should be made to repay all excessive compensation and should also spend some quality time behind bars, where they can reflect on their dubious leadership skills.

— Steve Layman, Seattle

Government already has answers

For those who think $700 billion is a tidy sum, it might be good to point out that it is peanuts compared to our current $10 trillion debt.

As with energy and many other things, the phrase “too little too late” might fit. We have a lot to do, and changing money from one hand to the other without anything useful happening is why, for the last 50 years, we have made very little progress.

When I was a teen, we talked about the time a car could go from zero to 60. I drove a car that turned 12.25 seconds in the quarter mile. Yet few realized, at the same time, our aircraft industry had a manned vehicle that did zero to outer space in eight minutes.

This same industry at the time had the answers to many of our current challenges, including energy. Few grasped that then, and current rhetoric tells us only generalities to try to cover up what those who are currently making the calls should know.

Current action shows a dismal level of knowledge in this area. We must start looking and dealing realistically with life, and we must start using what we have known for more than 50 years.

Debate all you want, but our required path is clear, whether we know it or not.

— Hugh Coleman, Kelso

Main Street key to U.S. economy

Once again, everyone — the politicians, the economists and the bankers — miss the key point that, unless the benefits of tax cuts reach Main Street and the American consumer, our economic recovery will sputter and fail.

About 76 percent of the U.S. economy is consumer (spending) driven, so unless that majority feels secure to spend and earns enough to spend, nothing will change. Bailing out the banks, while the American consumer bleeds to death by high credit-card interest, is a national shame and a Pyrrhic, hypocritical effort to save those whose greed drove this great country and the world into this peril.

The solution is simple: Lower credit-card rates while freezing spending limits, until balances get reduced to avert credit-card defaults, which hurt banks.

Work with homeowners who have lost jobs or earnings to save their homes from foreclosure.

Doing these two things alone will boost the Consumer Confidence Index and, with reduced interest rates, security and the peace of mind in being able to keep their homes, Americans will go out and shop again; things will improve with more money in circulation.

To President Bush, Treasure Secretary Henry Paulson, Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama: Think of people before you think about financial institutions, and the results will surprise you. Think of Americans first if you want the American economy to improve.

— Vik Puri, Seattle

Be transparent, government

I can’t believe American International Group Inc. is getting another bailout [“Fed to loan AIG another $38B,” News, Oct. 9].

$37.8 billion more for a company that has already received $85 billion and has been sending executives on ridiculously expensive vacation/spa weekends in California during the financial crisis? This has got to be one of the craziest things I’ve ever heard.

Two things government has failed at: solving the problem, and transparency in their efforts. One reason people are so upset (and anxious) is because there’s no clear sense of what’s going on, where it’s going and what the government is doing.

Neither party, specifically Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, has been willing or able to discuss specifics on what can, should and will be done to solve the financial problems.

I urge everyone to write or call their representatives and ask them to increase the transparency of the government’s actions (and inactions) and time spent discussing with the people of this country what is being done. Elected officials must understand that without knowledge of their constituency, only anger, anxiety and more confusion will result.

— Matt Padberg, Federal Way

Help pay bailout, AIG

On Oct. 8, AIG spent $440,000 on a retreat to the St. Regis Hotel in California after receiving a federal bailout [“AIG scolded for ‘wining and dining,’.” News, Oct. 8].

With the state of the economy now, Americans are suffering from the loss of jobs, homes and health insurance. Yet, within a week of getting bailed out with taxpayers’ money, executives from the company are getting the royal treatment.

I think it’s irresponsible and negligent for companies like AIG to blow thousands, if not millions, of dollars on unnecessary items.

If the company had so much money to spend on a retreat, it should be investing it toward a plan to pay off the bailout.

— Benny Chung, San Jose, Calif.

Hold Wall Street accountable

I am outraged at the news of AIG executives attending a $440,000 retreat after the company was bailed out with 85 billion taxpayer dollars!

I don’t know what actions the federal government is planning to take, but here are a few suggestions:

Immediately rescind the $85 billion loan.

Start a formal criminal investigation of AIG, its board members and the CEO, CFO, COO and all executives who attended the retreat. The full weight of the Justice Department, Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Trade Commission, the Senate and state agencies must be brought to bear.

Arrest and prosecute any of their executives and board members who participated in any criminal activities, and seize their company and personal assets for payment of damages.

The people who have criminally caused this financial meltdown need to be held accountable. I don’t know of a more perfect opportunity to do so than this one.

We must stand up to these people now and make it perfectly clear that this criminal behavior will not be tolerated ever again. We also must re-regulate this industry and demand that our representatives conduct thorough oversight.

Executive compensation and perks must change, and if this isn’t done and soon, then the actions of these criminals may trigger an angry backlash of the American people. That may result in grave danger for this nation.

— Bill Davis, Kingston

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