Finally, Sound Fiscal Policy

…to get the economy on track.  Only, it’s more than two thousand years old.
“The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.”– Cicero, c. 55 BC



The Audacity of Junkets

Just months after floundering financial institutions secured billions of dollars in bailout money from American taxpayers, they are getting plenty of heat for their dumbfounding misuse of the money.
The most recent case involves Wells Fargo & Co., which canceled a pricey Vegas trip after their itinerary was leaked to the media and created a storm of criticism. Wells Fargo, which collected $25 billion in bailout money, had booked 12 nights at the Wynn Las Vegas and sister hotel, the Encore. Not exactly planning to slum it, were they?
This is just the latest transgression. Wall Street securities firms should send a thank you note to Wells Fargo for replacing them in the Audacity Hall of Fame and knocking them off the front pages. Wall Street was blasted by President Obama and pretty much everyone else with a conscience for its irresponsible behavior after reports of $18.4 billion in bonuses being paid out in 2008 as the industry collapsed, costing taxpayers billions of dollars and tens of thousands of job cuts.
The Wells Fargo incident also comes on the heels of an ABC report that accused Bank of America of allegedly spending $10 million on a week-long Super Bowl party and Morgan Stanley planning an “elegant gathering” at a five-star resort in Florida.
Instead of spending taxpayer bailout money on lavish Vegas junkets, bonuses in the billions and executive spa treatments, maybe these financial institutions should be using the cash to buy a clue. Or, at least, spend it on a good crisis communications firm like PondelWilkinson.


— Ron Neal,

Death of a Business Section

There has been much speculation on whether the L.A. Times will continue to publish a business section, and as a former business reporter, that makes me downright sad.
Traditionally, business sections have always been treated like chopped liver. Editors and reporters alike perceive the business section as a luxury and not a necessity, and therein lies the rub. Does it occur to any publishing company that we are in the midst of one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression, and business news should be coveted, not discarded like a leftover spicy tuna hand roll from two nights ago?
OK, I get it that newspapers are ailing and newsprint is going out of style faster than a fanny pack on Richard Simons, but cutting the entire business section is absolutely absurd when you consider it is one of the only sections in a newspaper that can help us make sense of the mess we are in.


Evan Pondel,