Wednesday, December 29, 2004

On Wall Street, Spirits Are High

In tomorrow's New York Times, near the article about the death toll in Southeast Asia rising above 50,000 and the one reporting that a third of the dead are children, is this piece about bonus season on Wall Street. The $15 million the Bush administration pledged to help the survivors of the worst natural disaster in over 40 years would not even equal the bonus of one Wall Street investment banker.

Wall Street bonuses are expected to total $15.9 billion in 2004 - second only to $19.5 billion in 2000- according to Alan G. Hevesi, the state comptroller of New York. In 2003, bonuses totaled $15.8 billion. Mr. Hevesi said bonuses of that magnitude were "good news for New York."
Still, it's not enough for investment bankers who are rushing to bid on $6 million apartments, buy mink coats for their wives, and paying $150,000 for Aston-Martins bought as ornaments for their garages. One manager -- the one who bought the Aston-Martin -- worried about how some of the lower-paid associates are going to make ends meet.

[The manager told the Times that] last year's compensation packages for associates were ridiculously low. "You had third-year associates making $210,000 to $225,000; a lot of these guys are married and have young kids and they are working" very hard, he said.
Perhaps these underpaid associates should consider, for just a moment, the parents crying by the mass grave where their children, 150 children, were being buried. Or the thousands of women and children who died in proportionately greater numbers because they could not run as fast as grown men. Or the countless survivors who have lost their homes, their families, their businesses. Or the millions who are in danger of developing deadly diseases like malaria, cholera, and typhus because of polluted water and decomposed bodies and rotting garbage. Perhaps if the Wall Street brokers who are trying to support a family on only $200,000 a year could talk to survivors like a man named Swaminathan, who cried out again and again, "My wife and my son, they are no more," or Arul, who says that he and everyone he knows is "fed up with life" but have to continue living for their surviving family members, they would cheer up a bit.

1 comment:

George Smiley said...

I'll have some more on this soon!