It was a bumper year for Wall Street that resulted in the highest bonuses ever, a whopping $21.5 BILLION. That's great news...for the 174,000 people employed by the Financial Sector, the New York economy, the taxman....simply awesome news.
2005 was also a bumper year for dislocation and genocide (not to mention AIDS) in Africa. The death toll reached 400,000 and shows no sign of stopping, more than 2 million people have been forced from their homes and livelihoods and that is in Darfur alone. Even Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice could not persuade Congress to allocate $50 million to help end the genocide. Meanwhile the government has promised cuts, not increased funding, for the humanitarian aid organizations that are helping the homeless, traumatized, sick and jobless victims of these crimes.
According to NY State Comptroller Alan Hevesi the average 2005 Wall Street bonus is $125,000.
In Chad and Sudan (and many other needy countries), $125,000 could provide a primary healthcare clinic in a community without medical access, PLUS an operating room in a regional hospital, PLUS a well to bring clean water to that underserved community, PLUS medical supplies for those facilities, PLUS supplemental feeding for any malnourished children, PLUS immunization for the children and sanitation and education to prevent further disease.
Feeling any dis-ease yet?
Perhaps the partners at J.P. Morgan, Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse First Boston, Lehman Bros, UBS, Smith Barney et al should consider giving up, say, one tenth of one percent of their bonuses to those who cannot imagine wealth such as theirs. That would help fill that $50 million gap that our legislators didn't deem necessary. Then perhaps we wouldn't be seeing headlines like this next year:
WALL STREET BONUSES $21.5 BILLION
AIDS DEATHS 3.1 MILLION
WALL STREET BONUSES $21.5 MILLION
AIDS ORPHANS IN AFRICA 12 MILLION
So if you are or know a bumper bonus beneficiary check out safedarfur.org, or if you or they are not especially moved to be part of "never again," go buy that yacht or even a Rolex and enjoy the bumper years, for the clock may be ticking on more than a watch.