I like the SNL Weekend Update segment “Things that make you go Hmmm” so much, that I’m going to borrow it this week. (Don’t worry, I’ll put it back where I found it.)
Last week, that story about some of Wall Street’s biggest corporations receiving H1N1 vaccines for their employees while local hospitals don’t have enough vaccines for their patients really makes me go Hmmm.
According to a story on www.cbsnews.com, the manager of a large Manhattan pediatrics clinic with 7,000 patients, said she has 800 appointments scheduled for the vaccine, but only 500 doses. Meanwhile, across town on Wall Street, Citigroup got 1,200 vaccines for its employees. Citigroup released a statement that it will only give the vaccine to those employees in the high-risk category.
Because Wall Street is such a pillar of honesty and integrity.
Pound for pound, because children are one of the high-risk groups for H1N1, the percentage of high-risk individuals at a pediatrics clinic is, by default, 100 percent. I rather doubt Citigroup’s percentage comes anywhere near that. Yet it received more than double the number of vaccines than the clinic.
True, Citigroup said it would follow the high-risk rules. That’s the best bald-faced lie since “I didn’t inhale.” But, at least a watery attempt to appear decent and to have some shred of social integrity was made. Not so over at Goldman Sachs, which received 200 doses. Their spokesman said Goldman Sachs “decides in its sole discretion who receives the H1N1 vaccine – both the amount and timing.” When you’re rich, you don’t have to play by the rules, you see. And if babies die, so what. Babies don’t invest.
This is the same Goldman Sachs that took $10 billion in federal bailout money to save its own skin, graciously “loaned” by humble taxpayers,” now showing its gratitude to us by snagging H1N1 vaccines ahead of children. Taking vaccines from babies is even meaner than taking their candy, dontcha think?
Dr. Nancy Snyderman, chief medical editor for NBC, responded to Today anchor Matt Lauer’s question about the ethics of ANY corporation getting vaccines ahead of hospitals and clinics, explaining that sadly, it’s completely legal. But she emphasized that this doesn’t make it right.
Lauer pointed out that this vaccine grab should be a public relations nightmare for Wall Street. Snyderman agreed, and said in view of all the TARP bailouts on Wall Street, this would’ve been a fabulous opportunity to be noble and donate ALL the vaccines to local hospitals and pediatric clinics. But she didn’t insinuate that this might actually happen because, after all, Snyderman’s a doctor, not a comedian.
It’s already apparent that Wall Street CEOs don’t give a rip about public opinion, let alone taking up a noble cause, or they wouldn’t be giving million dollar bonuses to their employees with federal bailout money. If that wasn’t a clue about how little regard they have for the very people who yanked their sorry, fat butts out of the financial abyss, maybe this will: Several of the banks that pigged out on TARP funds – including Citigroup – turned around and raised the interest rate for some cardholders to close to 30 percent. And not just deadbeat customers. These were long-term customers with excellent payment records and no history of late payments, suddenly hit with doubled and tripled interest rates.
You could stop right there and already have added ample insult to injury. But taking cutsies in the H1N1 vaccine line ahead of children? That’s beyond insulting. It’s grotesque greed. It’s soulless. But greed and soullessness are necessary attributes for becoming a successful Wall Street fat cat.
Someone, please tell me how an average person gets even with Wall Street. I’m not an investor. At the very least, I can refuse to do business with Citigroup, and I’m happy to report that neither of my credit cards are theirs. Aside from that – how can an average little person fight back? Ideas, anyone?
But maybe it’s not the corporations but the government who deserves the public’s wrath, because I suspect that somewhere, somehow, there is a government department or official who approved the delivery of H1N1 vaccines to Wall Street corporations ahead of hospitals and clinics, just as it was the government that approved TARP bailout funds without any strings attached, particularly prohibiting the distribution of ANY bonuses (let alone exorbitant ones) to any company that received TARP funds until every penny has been repaid.
President Obama gave a reprimand to Wall Street about the bonus issue at a recent high-end fund-raiser, but essentially did nothing harsher than to call them all big, fat stinkypants and shake a “shame on you” finger at them. That just made them snicker. And I don’t have to tell you which finger Wall Street used in response. Will Obama now shame the stinkypants for now taking vaccines from children? They’ve got another middle finger, you know.
This makes one wonder why our government cowers in the presence of Wall Street corporations. I can think of two likely reasons. One, it’s actually the corporations that run this county, not the Democrats and Republicans and all their silly squabbles, or two, the politicians and the fat cats are all in bed together.
Hmmm. I guess this story wasn’t something that makes me go Hmmm after all. Because the longer I think about it, it doesn’t make me go Hmmm. It makes me go Grrrr.