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The Sinking of the USS Lehman

October 6th, 2008 | by Omnipotent Poobah |

Lehman Greedhead Richard S. FuldLehman Brothers’ Chief Executive Crapweasel, Richard S. Fuld, testified to Congress today about the sinking of the USS Lehman while under his command. It wasn’t a pretty tale, it never is when corporate giants go down and leave everyone thrashing about in the financial flotsam that surfaces. The testimony covered the all-too-familiar story of a corporate titan in a epic battle to keep his company afloat. But Fuld’s story portrayed the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island while the better analogy would’ve been a Gilligan with the financial foresight of a third-grader with a quarter burning a hole in his pocket.

The jackals at Lehman pushed themselves (and the rest of us) into a hyper-expensive crisis when they made shockingly bad decisions that cost employees - and to a lesser extent, investors - dearly. Everyone took a bath except the Lehman Brotherhood. Their reward for being the most incompetent asshats on the face of the planet is best exemplified by Fuld’s take of only $300 million in pay and bonuses as he passed the hat around pleading for the government to save his worthless ass. He didn’t forget his most senior henchmen either. They received an additional $20 million prosaically labeled “special payments” in the corporate books.

No wonder he described his money-grubbing as “embarrassing”.

Sharing $300 Million Worth of Pain
In my 25 years as a serf in the Korporate Kingdom, I’ve heard plenty about sharing pain, increasing productivity, and being lean and mean. The corporatists have always espoused a philosophy promising a guaranteed trip to the financial promised land as long as you work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Conversely, I’ve never heard of a corporate executive who shared the pain by giving up millions in bonuses while customers were screwed and employees were sent home as the company “repositioned” itself for “future growth and success”. To a CEO “success” is as elusive as “victory” in Iraq - always right around the corner, but never quite within reach.

Executive compensation apologists have given every reason in the book for allowing CEOs to steal their employees’ and investors’ gilt to apply to their own lilies.

They brag about pay-for-performance - apparently in this case, $300 million worth of performance in driving the company into an iceberg.

When a company is in trouble, they explain why the nutcase running the company must get a big bonus to stick around and pick up the pieces after the company implodes on him. Pieces incidentally, that never seem to include those of employees’ shattered lives.

How about the old “they take big risks” explanation? Excuse the language, but bullshit. It’s hard to sympathize with someone who walks off with more cash than God for taking a patently unrisky “risk” with someone else’s money. And speaking of risk, I thought investors were taking big risks too. How come these greedheads get to mitigate their risk by going to the front of the line to recover their idiotioc investments in Snake Oil, Inc?

‘Let Them Eat Cake Jealousy’
And finally, when none of these excuses sound in the least plausible, the apologists retreat to what sounds more like Pat Robertson preaching than a bizhead talking voodoo economics - “Things are just the way they are. You’re just jealous.”

In fairness, let’s concede the point about jealousy. It’s the same jealousy one might feel had OJ Simpson been acquitted for the murders and responded by mooning the courtroom and mugging trial observers for everything they had - including their clothes.

Fuld and his odious ilk have all the hubris and self-inflated grandiosity of Marie Antoinette. Dine well, live the good life, and let everyone else eat cake. After all, it’s the way of the world. A world vision in which these greed-infected carbuncles on the ass of society should meet the same fate as Marie.

Mr. Fuld, place your head on the block if you please.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

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