There’s a story about Mickey Mantle. When he was asked what kind of salary he would get as a Yankee in the modern era, Mantle’s response was that he’d go to George Steinbrenner and say “Howdy, Partner.” That’s what I feel we should be saying to all of these financial institutions that will be benefiting from the proposed governmental intervention (notice the absence of “bailout” – they’re far from out of anything!). I know – I said this wasn’t going to be a blog about politics but this isn’t – or shouldn’t be – political. We are in a crisis, folks. There is, as always, a lot of hyperbole flying around and I’m sure it’s exacerbated by the fact that we’re in an election year. However, some relief to end the crisis (and begin to solve the problem) is going to happen and it should.
There are dozens of business lessons here but the big one, in my mind, is about responsibility. Has a single CEO from one of the benefiting companies come forward and said “due to our mismanagement, there will be no bonuses paid for the next two years”? Trust me – most of the folks who get the big bonus payments won’t starve if they need to live on their salaries.
Like Mantle, those of us lending a hand (that’s you if you pay taxes and if you don’t, let me know how) should receive a financial stake for our investment. It worked in and it should be our policy here. Again, it’s an issue of responsibility. Our government is investing taxpayer money – it’s irresponsible to do so without a possibility of return on that investment.
Lastly, the folks involved need to cut the hyperbole. Come to think of it, so do the folks not involved. That’s probably the most irresponsible thing of all right now. This won’t cost $700 billion unless every company involved fails and none of the money is ever paid back. That won’t happen, especially not if the investment gets us a stake in the companies themselves. We are in a crisis that affects every one of us and I’ve always found that calm beats panic when it comes to dealing with crises.