07/24/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Confronting the Greedy

A couple of items in the financial sector, but both can be summarized in these words: the powerful and greedy continue to run things with impunity in the financial world.

First there's the news that Goldman Sachs is making record bonus payments for the first half of the year. Let me repeat that: RECORD bonus payments. Bigger than 2004 or 2005 or 2006 or 2007. Bigger than at the height of the bubble. In spite of all the toxic assets they have created. In spite of all the government bailout help. In spite of all the stunning damage to the American and world economy. In spite of all of that (or maybe because of some of it), for the very, very short term, the company has good profit numbers. Ergo post hoc, they are giving out really awesome bonuses to their big enchiladas.

Then, there is the massively infuriating article entitled "Treasury"s Got Bill Gross on Speed Dial". It seems that Bill Gross is extremely happy these days. Everybody in government seems to hang on his every word. The plan that he helped develop, the Public-Private Investment Program (the PPIP for short), which would coincidentally make him billions of dollars, is being pushed by Tim Geithner.

Read these two articles back to back; and if you are not sputtering with rage at the end, you must truly be the most pro-corporate libertarian around.

Hey, I know it takes a heck of all ill wind not to blow somebody some good. And I knew that when the Summers-Geithner policy of resuscitation of the financial system rather than restructuring it was adapted, that lots of people would make money off the deal. But reading these two articles really does make you wonder who won the election, and how these greedy folks can get away with doing whatever they want.

Check out this absolutely terrific post by Drew Westen, one I had really wished I had written because it's so on target. I want President Obama to succeed more than I've ever wanted anything politically, but it's not going to happen unless he (a) wrenches the control of the economy away from the greedy, and (b) confronts the greedy directly. You have to decide which side you are on, Mr. President: the struggling tens of millions barely hanging on, or not hanging on at all, in this dreadful economy. Or the greedy bankers and health insurance executives. I trust that you have good values and instincts, and I want to be on your side in these fights. I appreciate the good things you've done so far on the stimulus, the budget, health care, the environment. But at some point, you are going to have to confront the greedy, or you are not going to inspire and you are not going to win.

Fight the good fight, Mr. President, and there will be tens of millions of us who will fight it with you. Avoid these fights, and your presidency will be adrift, with neither set of allies fighting for you or big legislative victories.

Mike Lux is the author of The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be.