Pricey Executive Perks are a Minor Outrage

What's truly appalling is the vanished billions they haven't told us about yet

Oh goodness did you hear the one about the insurance executives who spent $443,000 on a week-long retreat, or the Merrill Lynch guy who spent $87,000 on an area rug? It is shameful, terribly shameful! Plus those auto industry titans who took corporate jets to Washington instead of driving their own American cars, and those Citigroup jerks who wanted to spend $50 million on a new airplane ... and to top it off, the final insult: $18.4 billion worth of bonuses for profligate Wall Street execs whom Joe Biden says should be thrown in the brig.

Here is the thing: yes, this is all appallingly bad PR, and yes, any executive too tone-deaf to predict how horrible this would look to a nation of angry, anxious, and financially strapped taxpayers should be fired. They should fire themselves, and then slink away forever in shame. But that isn't the worst of it.

As soon as you start reading news articles about some very expensive frivolity an executive spent way too much money on -- remember Dennis Kozkowski's $6,000 shower curtain? -- you can rest assured that they wasted far, far more unimaginably appalling sums in complicated business transactions that don't make for such titillating headlines. An $87,000 area rug is a very bright and shiny thing to complain about, but it is a trifling distraction compared to the amount that banks just as frivolously wasted on obscure financial derivatives that turned out to be even more worthless than a simple floor covering, which at least has an actual purpose.

So yes, run these greedy Wall Street execs on a rail for their incredible $20 billion bonuses. But remember that when you start hearing about some CEO's $35,000 commode, it's only a matter of time before you find out that a lot more money than that got flushed down the toilet.

Sara K. Smith writes for Wonkette.

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