HIGHTOWER: Wall Street's Bonus Babies

Did you get your bonus yet?They did on Wall Street. January to March is bonus-paying season for the speculators and hustlers who pull-off the slick deals at Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns and the other high-flying brokerage houses.If you're a typical American, you have been lucky just to stay afloat in the '90s, but these Wall Streeters are averaging $54,000 in bonuses this year. Never mind that eighty percent of Americans don't get that much in total pay, this handfull of hotshots in New York City are splitting $8 billion in bonuses, with those at the top really making a killing. At Goldman Sachs, for example, the firm's 200 partners have just paid themselves bonuses of between $4 and $8 million each.In Manhattan, 25-year-old stock manipulators are strutting into auto showrooms and buying $179,000 Lamborghinis and other luxury toys, while 30-year-old investment bankers are buying two-million-dollar condos in the Trump Tower. What do these geniuses contribute to our economy and society that warrants such extravagant payouts? They spend their days on such productive enterprises as "playing" the market, "betting" that our currency will fall in relationship to the Japanese yen, "hustling" corporate junk bonds and, as one sharpie explained to The New York Times, "I trade big positions in small companies and terrorize the chairman." In other words, they produce nothing. Mostly, they gamble with other people's money, filching fat fees whether the gamble pays off or not.The Powers That Be keep insisting that our economy is "robust" citing a rise in average income as proof. But they're averaging your income with these multimillion dollar, Wall Street bonus babies. Through such a numbers game, they can pretend that the economy is doing well, even when most of us are not.That's not a healthy economy; it's a dangerous one.Source:"Six figures of fun: Bonus season on Wall Street" by Trip Gabriel. The New York Times: Feb. 12, 1997.

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