"The highest priority has to attach to establishing strong and significant growth," said Summers....He got immediate pushback from Edmund Kelly, CEO of Liberty Mutual insurance company, one of whose first actions on joining the company in 1992 was to fire 1500 employees. He said
the U.S. fiscal expansion was acceptable on condition that the country lowers the long-term cost of employment by slashing benefits.But not, it would appear, on corporate salaries - Kelly took in a cool $27 million in 2005 - and perks.
The U.S., he said, "can stimulate in the short term and at the same time give the world the confidence that we as a country are willing to make the tough decisions on the long-term cost of benefits, whether heath care or pensions," he said.
Danish labor leader (or, as the article labeled him, "union boss") Peter Waldorff objected, pointing out that 30 million people worldwide had lost their jobs over the past two years and said nations should "secure people a minimal salary, some social security, some pension benefits."
What's affordable, Waldorff said, was a matter of priority: "How many trillions could we raise overnight to save the biggest business in the United States?"Which is true and so sounds like a clever retort - provided you don't actually think about it. What it actually does, though, is ignore or perhaps better said evade Waldorff's point, which was that the money to bail out the banks and the bankers was raised and it was raised more or less overnight. When it was decided the corporate world needed the cash, it was found. It was there. When that TARP money went out, the feds hoped to recover most of it - but they had no real idea if they would or not. That was not a requirement of the program going in and while it was a consideration, the consideration was "Big powerful companies need our help! We must not fail them lest the thunder of their fall doom us all!"
Kelly countered that the U.S. bailout fund, known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, was likely to recoup most or all of the money disbursed.
It's always the way: When people need help, you have to justify doing it. When big corporations need help, you have to justify not doing it. Because that is how they think of you: You are just not that important.
Footnote: It's attitudes like Kelly's that always tempt me to say these meetings are held in Davros.