Jim Hightower

Bailout Babies


Saying that such-and-such is the greediest bank on Wall Street is like claiming to have the biggest hairdo in Dallas-the competition is fierce.

Goldman Sachs Group, however, is a front-runner. It has profited enormously from the taxpayers’ bank bailout, yet it has hardly expressed gratitude. Indeed, Goldman has been downright huffy about limits on how much bailed-out banks can pay top executives. Now CEO Lloyd Blankfein has snapped that he wants to repay the $10 billion he took and get the government out of his business.

That’s the old rugged, free-enterprise spirit, right? Not exactly. Mr. go-it-alone fails to mention that he’ll still be clinging to several other backdoor bailouts. For example, when insurance giant American International Group Inc. was rescued, $12 billion of its bailout was quietly slipped to Goldman. Blankfein is not returning that money.

Then there’s the $28 billion he got in low-interest loans guaranteed by the FDIC. Not only is he keeping this subsidy, he says he’ll probably ask for $7 billion more. He has also taken billions more in low-cost loans from the Federal Reserve-we don’t know how much because the Fed and the bank say that’s “proprietary” information, not for public disclosure even though it’s public money.

So Blankfein is a $50 billion-plus bailout baby. Except for that first $10 billion, none of it comes with any limits on executive pay. Goldman recently announced it’s setting aside nearly $5 billion to be distributed at the end of the year as compensation, including outlandish bonuses to those at the top.

Blinded by “Science”

Let’s quote the experts on the matter of global climate change: “The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and potential impact of human emissions of green house gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied.”

That doesn’t come from some lefty environmental group, but from a 1995 report by scientific and technical experts working for the Global Climate Coalition. Who? The GCC was a front group organized and funded by Big Oil, automakers, utilities, and other major greenhouse gas polluters.

Throughout the 1990s, this coalition tried desperately to debunk findings by most environmental scientists that industrial pollutants were indeed causing Earth’s drastic climate change. The coalition ran a multimillion-dollar PR and lobbying campaign to create doubt that global warming was even happening, much less that GCC members had any responsibility for it.

Yet internal coalition documents have been released revealing that GCC’s own advisory committee told the corporate interests nearly 15 years ago that climate change was happening and that they were a central cause. When the committee’s 1995 report was issued, however, this inconvenient conclusion was deleted, allowing the industries and their political enablers to insist that the scientific community was “divided,” thus forestalling any governmental action on the climate change.

Tobacco giants used the same ploy for decades to deny links between smoking and cancer. Corporate interests have learned that they don’t have to prove their innocence, but just puff up a pseudoscientific smoke screen to dupe the media and government. You might remember this ploy the next time you hear corporate interests spouting science to defend their abusive practices.