Did you buy into that fairy tale about working hard, saving your money and playing by the rules? Sucker! You goofed up like Flounder did in Animal House when he let the guys take his brother’s car on a road trip and wreck it. You trusted the system. As John Belushi counseled a sniveling Flounder, “You screwed up. You trusted us. My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.”
   Belushi would know, he was in premed ... or prelaw. It doesn’t matter, they are both the same.
   {mosimage}Even crazy Dennis Hopper, who has found work shilling for a brokerage house, can’t save you now. Your road to retirement isn’t an expressway. It’s a dead end in a swamp of toxic investments. Congratulations, it turns out we are all at the bottom of the food chain. We are financial plankton for the Whales of Wall Street. I trusted Hopper a lot more back when he portrayed Billy in the world’s greatest biker movie, Easy Rider. Way back in the 1967 world of Easy Rider, Billy and Captain America came to an unpleasant end when they were blasted off their motorcycles on a bayou road by a goiter-swollen redneck in a pickup truck.
   Things are much classier now than 40 years ago when Easy Rider went looking for America. Instead of being blasted into the hereafter by thyroid-impaired regional persons of limited education, Americans have watched their jobs, savings, homes and what’s left of the economy blasted into the financial hereafter by highly educated, three-piece wearing persons of great wealth and taste. Please allow me to introduce John Thain of Merrill Lynch, Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers, and Bernie Madoff of the Lower Reaches of Hell. Let us consider the financial heroes who helped create an economy that lays off millions, closes down Circuit City and gives a blank check to the federal government to spend us out of our current colorful economic morass.
   These guys are admirably schooled in every grace. They are interchangeable in the same manner that capsules of cyanide are interchangeable. Well-tailored, smooth, and possessing the ethical standards of Marie Antoinette, Thain passed out $3 billion of bonuses to his buddies at Merrill Lynch in December right before it was swallowed by Bank of America. The bonus payments to the top dudes came in a year that Merrill had lost $27 billion dollars. Without the special financial acumen of his pals, Merrill might have lost $57 billion. You never know. Thain had to reward them so they wouldn’t take their ability to run Merrill into the ground to some other brokerage dying to lose billions of dollars. Thain also decorated his office to the tune of $1.2 million dollars using a supersaver coupon to scarf up a really nice rug for only $87,000. He’s a prince.
   Fuld, who presided over the collapse of Lehman Brothers, recently transferred his $13 million mansion in Florida to his wife for $100. Richard’s love for his wife is truly touching. A more sincere tribute to marital love is difficult to imagine. Some soreheads will allege that he was trying to protect his mansion from cranky creditors who will sue him because of losses incurred due to Lehman’s curious business practices. Those soreheads are just wrong. He sold his wife a $13 million dollar house for a hundred bucks because he loved her. When you give your significant other a valentine from the drug store, you should feel inadequate because you couldn’t give her a $13 million house.
   Madoff may be the biggest thief ever produced by Wall Street, which is really saying something. Or maybe not. Bernie stole $52 billion, give or take a billion. Who knows what other financial wizards are waiting to squirm into the light of day after their rock is overturned?
   Apparently, financial wizards are immune to shame. Not one of them has the decency to imitate the hero of Edwin A. Robinson’s poem “ Richard Cory” who went home and put a bullet through his head. They just have another martini.
  Contact Pitt Dickey at editor@upandcomingweekly.com

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