Bailed out bankers kept ripping us off
To the editor:
Thomas Marini is right about "The Big Short" being a great book (letter, Feb. 6 ), but his memory is a little foggy when he says the 2008 meltdown "destroyed Wall Street investment banks". It's true a lot of bankers lost their jobs, and various firms were absorbed by other banks, but the only one that was "destroyed'" was Lehman Brothers.
In fact, all those government-engineered buy-outs and mergers is exactly why the "too big to fail" problem is worse than ever. Anyone remember TARP? That's when the government took billions of our tax dollars and gave it to Wall Street, often with little oversight as to what they could do with it. So, of course, they gave themselves big bonuses as a reward for their incompetence.
A special case has to be Goldman Sachs. While many firms got pennies on the dollar for their toxic debt, when insurance giant AIG got its huge taxpayer bailout, Goldman got paid off at 100 cents on the dollar. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson was Goldman's former CEO. Gee, that couldn't have had anything to do with it, could it?
The same titans of capitalism who whine non-stop that the government must leave them alone so that free enterprise can flourish didn't hesitate for a moment before stealing our hard-earned tax dollars in order to bail themselves out. As the quote from a famous sociologist goes, in America it's "socialism for the rich, free enterprise for the poor". That's exactly what those big political contributions buy, folks.
By the way, you should definitely see the movie version of "The Big Short" while it's still in theaters. It's excellent. Hilarious and totally infuriating.