"He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water." Isaiah 49:10

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

So Where is my Bonus Check?

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

By and large, the nation seems to be teetering on the edge of collapse, both financially and morally. The news stories coming out of Wall Street and the American business community just don't seem to have ability to shock or scandalize us anymore. We seem to still be stunned and now find ourselves in a state of shock from the previous corrupt news stories...you know, the feeling you get when you just witnessed or were part of an terrible accident.

It seems we are still at a loss as to how to handle the big bonus dollars that corporate America always expected - no questions asked...and certainly, no need to even ask for a bonus. It was on automatic business pilot. Even if you did a terrible job managing your company, your department, or group of "top tier employees", a bonus just came out of the thin air...and after all, that is how most executives got that second house up in Vail, Edwards, or in other exclusive real estate areas.

The rest of us dopes...worked hard, gave up time and physical effort to help the company win the ratings and continue to generate more money for the shareholders. I have to admit, I loved my job and ended up working all hours of the day or night .

You see I was a in broadcast journalism. I was even a Vice President/News Director who promoted his way up the ladder of success by working hard and learning new jobs. I never suspected the company would one day stop worrying about one of their top news directors or one of the top news gathering television stations in the country.

When you stop and review how ratings are generated...and how "our station" continued to generate million dollar rating points in the late newscast alone every single night, money was to be made. And that was just the late news, this doesn't even count the other 20 hours, documentaries, or sports specials we produced.

Unfortunately for me, I learned the hard way. The day I became the undisputed news leader in our television station, I never really sat down and "negotiated" my new salary. I believed "the company" would take care of me. The same company that was now giving me a chance to exceed my dreams of news immorality.

Only later did I realize I got the job at about $40,000 to $60,000 less than the guy that just left. He left I suppose because he wanted to "pursue other new opportunities and challenges." Considering bonus money was set in part on your annual salary...well, your figure the math and the amount of bonus money I saved the shareholders.

The real basis of this little diatribe is to just review again that our business model in America is based on corruption and injustice. Yes, I should have been "more smart" and known how the system worked, but when a "minority employee who started out as the copy boy is given a chance to lead the very department where he served thousands of cups of coffee or distributed copies of breaking UPI or AP news briefs to every news writer or news anchor," well, you just don't think that anyone is going to stiff you for a couple thousand dollars in pay.

(Okay, I am showing my age, because I am talking about tele-printers...the constant typing news machines banging out news, weather, sports, and bulletins from every corner of the global).

Besides if you made too much out of a hassle about pay, they could very easily just pass you over and give the job to a more deserving member of the in club. So, with perhaps a little doubt in the back of my mind, I just shook the hand that gave me a chance and said, "Wow, only in America."

The fact is today, my picture does not hang on the wall of honor, or nor do I own the gold watch with the big "9" on it. I don't think I can even enter the building I worked for over twenty four years...or just about half of my life.

Life is full of lessons...learn your lessons well while you can.

But I came across an article about how we can generate new interest in the greedy little pointy headed business executives that think giving away our money to supposedly "deserving and hard working executives of big business companies" that are failing is still okay.

Susan J. Douglas, professor of communications at the University of Michigan wrote an interesting blog on the "In These Times" website on how to get each of us back in front of the tube. (Not on the news in the tube, but watching the bad guys on the tube).

She wrote an article (blog) entitled, "Wanted, A Perp Walk for Plutocrats." "This whole meltdown has been so mystified with jargon, taken for granted as confusing and unfathomable, that we’ve been persuaded we can’t get it. I bet we can. We deserve a big, public tribunal with perp walks, outraged and preening prosecutors, constant media coverage and revenge. This is how you get to “never again.”

What a novel idea...bringing back the prep walk. I am so angry to see that a person in our country can dupe BILLIONS OF DOLLARS from unsuspecting money investors, and still live in his multi-million dollar apartment house in New York City while the people he promised prosperity don't even own a home anymore. Many have had to go back to work at a time in their "advanced age" when they should be enjoying the investments made in good faith.

For the record, Bernie Madoff finally got a new apartment in the up town scale neighborhood at the city jail. This was months after the SEC, the G-Men, and who knows what other federal agency investigating this heist, finally gave in and allowed ole Bernie the downtown perp walk.

There are other examples of greed and unexplainable deeds of corruption. For example, while holding out one hand for your tax money - a bail out - is what I think the government calls it, the other hand is giving away billions in bonus gifts to his own team of executives who helped run the company into financial failure.

At the time the bonus dollars were being flushed down the toilet, this same company is figuring out how it lost an additional $35 BILLION dollars in one quarter. Not just one little miserly billion dollars....but 35 of them. Wow!

Please let us not forget the executive who gave away billions in bonus checks, who was responsible for the company losing $35 BILLION dollars, and actually took the time to spend over $1.2 million in office remodeling needed to rid the office of the stench of corruption and bad business decisions.

But do you know what, the reason our business community slipped on the banana peel and went into an economic free fall, is because the poor guy looking for a loan to purchase his first home is now being called the irresponsible business client who caused the economic free fall.

Douglas asks, "How about all the folks at (a big financial company) who, for starters, steered low income and minority borrowers to higher-interest and sub prime loans? As the kings of the sub prime disaster charged with making predatory loans, let’s put these guys on the hot seat."

Anyway, as I try to live the good life I thought I earned from this top tier Fortune 500 company...my miserly pension check does not even stretch to pay my monthly mortgage.

As I live a life of never ending pain partly from handling heavy "news gathering equipment" before I started generating all the paperwork necessary to document ratings points and news awards, I wonder if any of the bigwigs will let me spend a weekend in one of their second homes in the mountains, beach, or millionaire lane just to chill out?

Naw, I should be just be happy I was given a chance to take a top news management job at a copy boy's salary. After all, at least I can say with "pride" that I contributed to the financial well-being of that company....and even though I looked closely every year at the fine print in the big colorful graphic filled company yearly report to see if maybe, just maybe my name was attached to one of those big bonus checks....sorry, no such luck.

So you know what, I think I will just wait for all the business perp walks long over due on the daily newscast. Who knows, if CBS were to cover these daily perp walks..."something like, in today's perp walk....." they could become Number One all over again.

It would be interesting and worth watching to hear someone say...."You're Fired!"

Fidel "Butch" Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212

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