Weekly Comments Archive
Archived Issue
Sunday, July 25, 2010
ISSUE #613
#613 July 25, 2010

Bank reform and a leaning bridge draw Will’s attention

COLUMBUS: President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform bill. But really, it’s more of a Jobs bill, and all the new jobs will be in Washington. Thousands of Wall Streeters will move down there to advise the government on how to reform Wall Street. A couple dozen Harvard professors will be hired to assist them. Their job will be to write the rules in such a way that nobody can understand them except lawyers. Only one thing will be clear: there will be no rules or regulations pertaining to the financial dealings of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Or Congress. Thereby assuring the failure of any financial reforms.

You have read in the papers that Wall Street banks paid bonuses of $2 Billion. These bonuses were paid even though those same outfits went so deep in the hole they had to be bailed out with $800 Billion. It kinda makes you wonder how much those birds rake in when they’re profitable.

Meanwhile, the BP Board of Directors is giving CEO Tony Heyward a $15 Million bonus, to leave. He also gets to keep his yacht and all the oil he can scoop up from the Gulf. No word from the Board yet if they are accepting my suggestion to change the name from BP to Amoco. That idea ought to be worth another $15 Million.

Here in Columbus, the mayor cut the ribbon on a new bridge. It was designed by a Harvard professor named Spiro Pollalis who said the 660 foot long bridge would cost $20 million. It’s called an inclined-arch bridge with one arch, not two, and the arch leans about 10 degrees upstream. Well, he designed it with match sticks and the engineers had to add a million pounds of steel to the design and 2500 cubic yards of concrete so it wouldn’t fall in the river. The cost TRIPLED to $60 million. But the mayor says it’s worth it because this bridge will become the symbol for Columbus, Ohio, the way the Space Needle is to Seattle, the Gateway Arch is to St. Louis and the Leaning Tower is to Pisa.

It seems we spent $20 million to cross the river and $40 million for advertising purposes. From now on, whenever you see on TV a prominent person being interviewed in Columbus, he will be standing in front of this bridge. Or maybe he’ll be standing on it, where hordes of tourists eventually will be photographed, pushing against the tilting arch. The mayor will go down in history because the city will become famous worldwide as the home of the Leaning Bridge of Columbus.

Professor Pollalis was asked about the extra $40 million for his bridge design, he scoffed and said, “In Athens, Greece, today nobody thinks about what the Parthenon cost.” He’s right. Greece has been operating by that same economic plan for centuries. That’s why they’re broke.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“Banking and After Dinner Speaking are two of the most Non-essential industries we have in this country.  I am ready to reform if they are.” WA #14, March 14, 1923


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