Didn't the millionaire bankers have moms and dads and teachers who taught them that when you ask for something, when you stick out your hand and say "Please," that it requires a humble "Thank you" in response?
It sure doesn't seem that way.
You'd think that these banks would have a "Thank you, America" message splashed on their websites. After all, we were the ones who rode to their rescue.
The kind of website recognition I'm proposing is easy to do. It's the right thing to do. And compared to the millions they pay their lobbyists and PR experts to soften their caustic, toxic images, it's cheap.
Sadly, no such examples of early-childhood training are evident. And the absence of saying, says a lot.
I just spent some time on the websites of the banks that were the biggest recipients of TARP largesse. Guess what? Their arrogance and lack of graciousness persist all the way to the denouement of the year. It's the same for GM and other bailout babies, by the way.
They pretend nothing happened. They're stroking their brilliance, spinning their skills, trying to suck in more corporate and individual money.
There's not a single mention - at this time of the year when companies routinely thank everyone who supported them during the year - of the extraordinary infusion of cash from the Federal Reserve. Search "TARP" on their sites and see what you get. Virtually nothing. The way Russian textbooks treat Stalin is even more honest.
I don't think it's too much to ask for an honest statement of what happened, some elegant graciousness, some recognition of the fact that the ability of the banks to pay their huge bonuses has been contingent on taxpayers pulling them back from the precipice.
A precipice to which they were brought by their own greed and bad judgment, I am constrained to add.
Nor, by the way, did the banks offer up any signal of appreciation as they paid back their TARP funds. It was a moment of potential humility, but it turned into a display of nose-thumbing. "Good-bye Mr. Government, we're on our own now, we can pay ourselves whatever we want, and good riddance."
This absence of a simple "Thank You" on their holiday websites is absolutely stunning to me. But it shouldn't be - even taking their off-the-charts entitlement into account. Because it says that nobody was home. Nobody cared enough even to make an easy cosmetic gesture. It's a small but massively telling indication that the banks have no clue about the outrage out there.
Lloyd Blankfein has already said that Goldman really didn't need the money. He has also said that Goldman does God's work. If he actually believes that, then I guess you feel no need to show gratitude. In fact, gratitude would be unseemly, unworthy of your exalted status.
God, after all, isn't in the thank you business.
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