After all the shocking headlines and upwardly revised estimates of what the Savings and Loan (S&L) scandal will cost taxpayers, you may think you are shockproof. Think again.
Item: Former executives of failed savings and loans, that the U.S. government has taken over, are still drawing full salaries paid for by the taxpayers. Some of these bosses, who ran their bank into the ground and received a taxpayer bailout, are receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
Why should your government, in the form of the Resolution Trust Corp. (RTC), be doing this? Well said a RTC spokesman, if they are continued to be paid, the RTC can ask them questions from time to time about the bank. Or, he added, continuing to pay them during the liquidation process may be considered a form of severance pay.
“In the old days, if a manager was part of the problem, he went immediately,” said Tom Mason, spokesman for the Office of Thrift Supervision. “There was no such thing as administrative leave, and people would only be kept on if they were useful and were not a part of the problem.”
In the context of today’s S&L crime and mismanagement wave, being part of the problem can include looting, stealing, or speculating wildly with the savers’ money. Maybe you can ask your Representative or Senator to find out more about this latest outrage.
Item: Even after receiving huge bailout sums, banks continue to redline minority neighborhoods. The Southern Finance Project (329 Rensselaer, Charlotte, NC 28203) studied six Texas banks which have received a total of $22 billion in government assistance. The finding: “For every thousand dollars in taxpayer assistance the six banks received in their 1988 deals, they invested a combined eleven cents in all non-white and racially-integrated neighborhoods in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin in 1989.” Less than one-half of one percent of two of these banks’ residential loans went to minority neighborhoods.
The mega-millionaires who acquired these sweetheart deals from your government, which generously assumed all liabilities, are making huge profits on their investments.
Item: A move is on in Congress, backed by banking industry and White House lobbyists, to overturn court decisions and limit the liability of lenders for asbestos, landfill hazards and other environmental costs. So if the government takes over properties from failed S&Ls and these properties have environmental hazards, the banks would be let off and either the taxpayers will pay or if not they, then the harmed people in the affected communities pay.
Bill Roberts, legislative director of the Environmental Defense Fund, criticized the proposed legislation as encouraging lenders to “take a see-no-evil,
hear-no-evil approach to environmental risks.” Under this bill, introduced by Senator Jake Garn (R-UT), Roberts says “If you are a lender, what you don’t know can’t hurt you. As the current S&L scandal has proved, lenders need more incentives to carefully review their loans, not less.”
Would all of this, plus the $500 billion S&L bailout, have occurred, if Bank Customers had an easy opportunity, through an invitational insert in their monthly bank statement, to voluntarily join together in a Bank consumer organization with a full time staff of advocates? Not likely.
In a few months, George Bush will send another megarequest to Congress for the second stage S&L taxpayer bailout. At that time, Reps. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Joseph Kennedy (D-MA) will introduce an amendment to establish just such a requirement on the S&Ls. For a description of this “financial consumers association” amendment, write to Rep. Schumer, House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20015.