Today in Oligarchy: You're so Thain, you prob'ly think the trees are about you.
That would be John Thain, the chairman and CEO of CIT, who recently paid to restore a 50-acre section of the Bronx Botanical Gardens. Naturally, he renamed it the "Thain Family Forest." But even that doesn't quite cut it. As David Dunlop wryly chronicles in the New York Times, you cannot take a leisurely stroll through this plutocratic Sylvania without encountering The Thain Family at every turn, on every twig, on every piece of bark. It's hard to see the forest for the sleaze:
They turn up on prohibitory signs, too. “Please Stay on the Path: The Thain Family Forest is a fragile ecosystem.”One expects donors’ names at entrance ways and on directional signs and maps. It’s more unusual to find donors’ names woven into the interpretive narration. At the garden, however, the words “Thain Family Forest” are slipped into signs about black oaks, hemlocks and hillside blueberries (“a favorite of birds and small mammals in the Thain Family Forest”); about vernal pools and great horned owls; about mound formations and forest layering; and even about snags, as standing dead trees are called, which help “reveal the Thain Family Forest’s great age.”
Indeed, by the time you reach the sign beginning, “When a tree falls in the Thain Family Forest —,” you may be tempted to finish the thought yourself, “— does it make a Thain Family Sound?”Truth be told, John Thain himself is a fragile egosystem. You may remember John, formerly of Goldman Sachs, as the tycoon who was put in charge of the financially troubled Merrill Lynch and then proceeded to loot the company of more than $1 million for furnishing his office -- just as the financial world came crashing down on everybody else. Even as Thain self-pampered, and was firing people right and left, he himself was on his way out: Bank of America was already in the process of taking over the company and releasing him with a golden parachute. From the Daily Beast, here's a sampling of what he indulged in while Wall Street's victims were losing their jobs and their homes:
1) $2,700 for six wall sconces.
2) $5,000 for a mirror in his private dining room.
3) $11,000 for fabric for a "Roman Shade.”
4) $13,000 for a chandelier in the private dining room.
5) $15,000 for a sofa.
6) $16,000 for a "custom coffee table.”
7) $18,000 for a “George IV Desk.”
8) $25,000 for a "mahogany pedestal table.”
9) $28,000 for four pairs of curtains.
10) $35,000 for something called a "commode on legs.”
11) $37,000 for six chairs in his private dining room.
12) $68,000 for a "19th Century Credenza" in his office.
13) $87,000 for a pair of guest chairs.
14) $87,000 for an area rug in Thain's conference room and another area rug for $44,000.
15) $230,000 to his driver for one year’s work.
16) $800,000 to hire celebrity designer Michael Smith, who redesignied the White House for the Obama family for "just" $100,000.
When Thain was caught out by the media, he reimbursed the moribund company out of his own personal $83 million compensation package. An investigation into whether Thain used TARP funds to pay himself and his cronies bonuses even as Merrill was imploding was started by then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Unsurprisingly, it came to nothing. It might have upset the confidence of the markets.
Hey, Zuccotti Parkers! How about we occupy The Thain Family Forest!!
|A Tree Grows On Wall Street|