Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Frito Bandito Rides Again

"Aye, yii, yii, yiiii, I am dee Frito Bandito. I like Frito's Corn Chips. I love them, I do. I want Frito's corn chips. I'll take them, from you."

You remember the Frito Bandito (If not, click here). He went around stealing everyone’s Fritos Corn Chips. He was very happy doing it. When he was caught, he was totally unrepentant. There is no evidence that he was ever punished for his crimes and the stolen Fritos were never taken away from his possession.

What a disgusting role model for children!

Today’s parallel? No, we’re not heading to Arizona. We’re going to Wall Street. Wall Street, where some financial firms sold securities that were loaded with “toxic assets” as high quality products to unknowing investors. Knowingly doing this is a crime. It’s called fraud. This crime was committed thousands of times. So how many arrests have there been? Haven’t read about many. Some executives have lost their jobs, but overall accountability has been virtually non-existent.

Repentance? Very weak there also. The Goldman Sachs executives testifying this week offered many excuses, but no contriteness. They tried to say it was the investors fault for buying the securities. If you knew the securities were flawed (as internal e-mails indicate) and you marketed them deceitfully, you are guilty. If you didn’t know the securities were flawed, you needed to know because that’s your job. That’s your area of expertise. You are still guilty.

Not only are the guilty not being punished, some are being rewarded. Those risky securities deals didn’t work out so well? That’s okay, here’s a bailout. Oh, profits are down? Here’s a big bonus anyway. If there is no profit, there should be no bonus. That’s the way it works everywhere else. The argument that not paying a bonus would result in a significant pay cut is laughable. Don’t like taking a 30% pay cut? Hey buddy, try taking a 100% pay cut like 15 million people in the U.S. because the companies you worked for (bleeped) up the whole (bleeping) economy! And the argument that workers not receiving bonuses would then leave their companies for other jobs? That means they voluntarily get to seek other employment. Again, many people now wish they had that opportunity.

If a robber gets caught stealing $100 after breaking into your house, he goes to jail. Some people who are responsible for millions in fraud, drive by the jail on the way to the country club. You may have some compassion for a robber stealing to feed his family. It is more difficult to forgive someone stealing to obtain a bigger yacht.

And they get to keep the money! What a sweet deal. Wearing wingtips and cufflinks should not prevent you from being punished for your crimes. How have they evaded the government’s punishment? The people in the government wear wingtips and cufflinks also. They also get massive campaign contributions.

So the Frito Bandito was just ahead of his time. He would have made a great securities trader during the past decade. Still, I would advise him to stay away from Arizona. Better to steal your Fritos in some other place. Aye, yii, yii, yiiii, indeed.

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