Just like an episode ending cliffhanger of “24,” we’re huddled together in a room hog-tied (sans lipstick) and blindfolded. We’re hostages. The stolen suitcase bombs are strategically placed for maximum destruction, and the red neon numbers dance toward a vaporizing of all within their blast radius. The suitcase “weapons of mass destruction” as described by Warren Buffett, are filled with toxic debt instruments; the ransom is $700 Billion Dollars, and if we don’t pay it, capitalist terrorists will allow the clock to run out and watch the pancaking of our economy from lower Manhattan penthouses.

The government of course is led by an inept president, and many in congress are united by fear and by terrorist infiltrators whispering the corporate slogan, “just do it.” There’s fear in the air and the drumbeat to deliver “shock and awe” to our financial system is heightening. Today, history provides 4,161 reasons why we should have slowed down prior to invading Iraq, and the magnitude of our financial crisis demands we think this through.

Paying the ransom as currently constituted will transfer a minimum of $700B of taxpayer dollars to Wall Street firms, and nothing to individuals and small businesses preyed upon by them. Just this morning, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, is dismissing Democratic efforts to aid households as part of the bailout bill. “We need this to be clean and to be quick,” Paulson said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.” This episode of “24” is brought to you by Goldman Sachs, the firm Mr. Paulson formerly led. In a case of naked corporate nepotism, Mr. Paulson actually gets to act in the episode, and is serviceable as the cliché “Fox in the Henhouse.” Many of these people the administration wants to leave in the burning towers were put there by the marketing efforts and slick sales pitches of the builders, and many of them weren’t educated enough to save themselves. I’ve seen it. My daughter hasn’t graduated high school yet, but she receives 1-2 credit card solicitations a week. Just try it… you won’t get hooked.

Of course, the terrorists control the weapons, so any delay in the Bush administration’s “clean and quick” plan will be met by frantic Wall Street selling tomorrow and a ratcheting up of fear, another post-9/11 tactic that swayed public opinion toward war. The men calling for the ransom to be paid and threatening dire consequences if it isn’t, built empires on leveraging leverage and personally profited obscene numbers while doing it. In 2006, Wall Street firms paid $33.9 Billion in bonuses alone. 2007 was an “off” year, and the bonus pool shrank to $33.2 Billion, or $180,420 per employee. The combined $67.1B is nearly 10% of the bailout price tag, and these giants of capitalism stuffed their personal piggy banks with it in just 2 years. We don’t know all of their names, but we know a few of the alleged leaders and their 2007 compensation for helping to get us here:

  • Martin Sullivan – former Chairman and CEO of AIG – $14.3 Million
  • James Cayne – former Chairman and CEO of Bear Stearns – $38.3 Million
  • Kenneth Lewis – Chairman and CEO of Bank of America – $24.8 Million
  • Daniel Mudd – former CEO of Fannie Mae – $11.6 Million
  • Richard Syron – former Chairman and CEO of Freddie Mac – $18.3 Million
  • Lloyd Blankfein – Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs Group – $68.5 Million
  • Richard Fuld, Jr. – Chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers – $34.4 Million
  • John Thain – CEO of Merrill Lynch & Co. – $17.3 Million
  • E. Stanley O’Neil – former CEO of Merrill Lynch & Co. – $24.3 Million
  • Angelo Mozilo – founder and former CEO at Countrywide Financial Corp. $122 Million in stock options alone.

Will any of these “perps” be held responsible? Will homeowners be helped as part of Bush’s bailout? Will the American terrorists allow the clock to run out? Tune in tomorrow to see if anything remains ticking.

Tick… Tick… Tick…