What’s Really Going On*

What’s Really Going On*
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By Jack Kelly

By all accounts, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon is seen as one of the best big-bank executives. He also comes across as a decent, sober person in interviews—but being a billionaire helps chill a guy out. 

Dimon recently said about Covid-19, “This crisis must serve as a wake-up call and a call to action for business and government to think, act and invest for the common good and confront the structural obstacles that have inhibited inclusive economic growth for years.” Dimon added, “[The pandemic] laid bare the reality that, even before the pandemic hit, far too many people were living on the edge.” 

It’s always interesting when a ridiculously wealthy person suddenly decides that he’s going to be the benevolent overlord of the downtrodden masses. He admonished businesses and our government to use the coronavirus pandemic as the time to create a fairer economy. 

“Now that I’m filthy rich, let’s change things up” is basically what he and every billionaire now says since it’s fashionable. This is a nice sentiment and makes for good public relations. Let’s not pretend. The rich have short arms and deep pockets. They throw money around like they would toss manhole covers. Never forget—it’s always the middle class that’s going to pick up the tab. The rich have fancy, sharp shyster lawyers and nerdy pencil-neck accountants to keep their money safe and sound—far away from the poor riff-raff and definitely not toward paying taxes.

This may be a great time for white-collar crime. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been working from home since the virus outbreak was originally called Coronavirus. SEC Chairman Jay Clayton (yeah, you haven’t heard of him because he hasn’t really been doing that much as Trump’s not a big fan of regulations) told the 4,000 regulators and staff members that they’ll have to stay home up until July. So, if you’re an insider-trading senator, this is the time to trade away. 

We’re ordered by officials to stay in our homes and shut down our small companies. Meanwhile, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and Google gobble up all of the business and customers. Stuck inside, we have to endure endless insufferable lectures from our political leaders. What makes this worse is that we’re able to see in real time how ineffective they are. Have you noticed that our governors, congress members, mayors and other petty political bullies lack any semblance of common sense and are completely and utterly incapable of offering any insightful ideas to get us out of this mess.

Even worse, they’re hypocrites. The health secretary of Pennsylvania whisked her mother out of a nursing home. She allegedly knew that hospitals were sending Covid-19-infected patients to nursing homes, including the one her mother resided in. How is this not some sort of crime? Maybe the SEC can shut off Netflix for a while and look into this for us?

Governor Andrew Coumo crankily pontificates to us every day, but he sent waves of infected patients to nursing homes and thousands died, as the virus spread throughout the facilities. We were told to watch out for the old, sick, infirmed and people with pre-existing health conditions. This is the exact definition of the folks who occupy nursing homes. It’s not just New York; this happened everywhere. Our leaders literally ignored the old, sick, infirmed and people with pre-existing health conditions. The last I looked, over 20,000 elderly people died in nursing homes. This is a national travesty. Has any politician apologized? Nope, not a chance.

The political tyrants get even sillier. Tennis courts reopened (yes, you can play tennis, but can’t get a haircut) in parts of Long Island, New York. Nassau County Executive Laura Curran lectured about “handling your own balls.” She explained in her best third grade teacher way that if you and another player are from the same household “you can touch each others’ balls,” but players should otherwise take every precaution to “avoid coming in contact with balls of unknown origin.”  She concluded, “You can kick their balls, but you can’t touch them.” I’d love to say that this is made up because I have such a great sense of humor, but, sadly, it’s true. 

 Everyone’s in an uproar over the fact that President Trump is taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent coronavirus infection. The press and social media are busy calling out the bad orange man as stupid because the drug hasn’t been proved safe by the regulators. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi seemed concerned about Trump’s health. She politely pointed out that he’s “morbidly obese” and the usage of hydroxychloroquine could cause serious damages. That’s so sweet of her to notice and care.

Why would anyone be surprised about the negative side effects associated with taking medicine? It’s not like we haven’t seen 10,000 commercials for drugs that spend half the time advising how a simple cough drop could cause your eyes to fall out of their sockets and you could spontaneously explode if you use their drug. 

I’m starting to think that this drug really works. If the people who hate on Trump really believed that the drug is bad, they’d stay quiet and let him poison himself. Since they’re whining, this is just another case of whatever Trump says, half the country has to take the opposite side. I’m not a Trump fanboy, but it gets tiresome and boring to keep harping on someone you despise. 

Pier 1 Imports said that it’s planning to file for bankruptcy. I know you probably thought the company was long dead; evidently, it’s not, but soon will be. Of course, management blames  COVID-19 for their issues. From now on, all you’ll hear from companies is that it’s the pandemic’s fault. I’m going to use this as an excuse for everything I do from now on. You say you don’t like my writing, blame Covid-19. It’s not my fault that I suck. 

The company is planning to sell its inventory and remaining assets, but who would buy them? If people liked their tchotchkes, they’d already have bought them and they’d still be in business.  “This decision follows months of working to identify a buyer who would continue to operate our business going forward,” Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer Robert Riesbeck said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the challenging retail environment has been significantly compounded by the profound impact of COVID-19, hindering our ability to secure such a buyer and requiring us to wind down.” Let me translate: “We can’t find anyone stupid enough to unload our junk on them.”

The Swiss love snooping around. Swiss regulators have requested electronic messaging data from the mobile phones of several Credit Suisse managers and supervisory board directors as part of a probe into spying at the bank.

Switzerland’s regulators are examining the culture and governance at one of Europe’s largest banks to find out what’s the deal with all this spying stuff. I forgot all about this story and previously wrote about it back in February—which feels a lifetime ago. If you want to read a crazy tale of corporate espionage, check this out: Swiss Bank CEO Forced Out After Reports Of Spying On Two Former Executives

Jamie Dimon doesn’t need to worry now. Millions of workers who’ve lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic (once again, it’s always the virus’ fault) found out that unemployment pays better than employment. Research shows that jobless benefits with the enhanced $600 provided by the federal stimulus package exceeds their previous paychecks. 

Nearly 70% of unemployed workers who can collect unemployment will get benefits that are greater than what they used to earn, according to economists at the University of Chicago. Base payments range from $144 per week in Tennessee to $515 in Massachusetts. The federal CARES Act offered all workers an additional $600 per week on top of the state aid. At this rate, everyone may want to go on unemployment for a while.

*If you are offended by anything written here, it’s not my fault—Covid-19 made me do it.

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