“To try may be to die, but not to care is never to be born.” –William Redfield
In 2008, the institutions that were the foundation of the U.S. economy dissolved as if they were built on sand. Most of us probably couldn’t describe exactly what all of these companies did, but we recognized them from their Manhattan skyscrapers, billboards, and TV ads.
In a downward spiral that seemed to have no bottom, we heard and read that companies like AIG, Merrill Lynch, Countrywide, Lehman Brothers, and Bear Stearns were on the brink of collapse. When Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, we learned that it was the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history. We read that Countrywide, the company to which millions of us mailed our mortgage payments every month, was failing quickly. (We now know that it was acquired by Bank of America).
We expressed outrage when AIG, at one point the world’s largest insurer, received federal bailout money and two weeks later rewarded a select group of employees with lavish bonuses totaling $443,344. The corporate compensation proved to be a major public relations gaffe and fed into public perceptions of corporate excess. Read more