Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 9
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Northern Trust apology shows promise

By now, it’s a cliché to say that we’re entering a new economic era. It’s just about impossible these days to have not heard that the national and global economies are in trouble. Just as cliché is the notion that ‘we need to start being a little more responsible with our money.’ Everyone wants to act the wiser, and scold the rest of us for not realizing exactly what kind of situation we’re in.

A bank called Northern Trust Corporation recently came under fire for doing exactly what’s become so easy to criticize-they spent millions of dollars on a PGA golf tournament sponsorship and associated parties after receiving $1.6 billion of federal money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Responding to a reproachful letter from Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.), in which he called the bank’s actions irresponsible and arrogant, Northern Trust Corp. said that it will return the money spent on the parties and work to make sure future activities are more appropriate to the economic environment.

This is coming not long after the big three automakers flew to Washington in their corporate jets to beg congress for emergency bailout funding.   General Motors’ $36 million luxury jet is only one of an entire fleet that GM uses to transport its executives around the world, and a single round trip to Washington costs around $20,000.

Despite harsh criticism from just about the entire nation, including President of Citizens Against Government Waste, Tom Schatz, who called the whole ordeal “a slap in the face of taxpayers,” the big three weren’t eager to apologize. Even after the House and the Senate essentially wagged a huge, collective finger at them for the entirety of their hearing, the big three CEOs were still unapologetic and determined to defend their right to private jets.

Then, of course there was the whole ordeal in which bailed-out Wall Street investment firms still paid over $14 billion in year-end bonuses. This move unsurprisingly drew plenty of criticism, including some harsh words from Congressman Denis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who called these bonuses “an affront to taxpayers,” and president Obama, who chose words like “shameful,” “outrageous” and “the height of irresponsibility” to describe the bonuses.

Surprisingly, these reprimands didn’t draw much of an apologetic reaction either. “My bonus is ‘shameful,'” admitted John Konstantinidis, an insurance broker on Wall Street, “but I worked hard to get it.”

So what’s any different about Northern Trust? Despite the lameness of their apology (again: they say that they’ll “work to make sure future activities are more appropriate to the economic environment”)-despite this, they actually did apologize. Maybe even this small start on the road to responsibility is a good thing. Maybe, in America, where we’re slow to admit our wrongs and even slower to correct them, this is a good sign.

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  • B

    BillMar 18, 2009 at 1:11 am

    Pathetic article. As stated above, Northern Trust is a profitable corporation. In other words, they are one of the ones doing things right. They did not request TARP funds, they were forced to take them so that the American public would not know which banks were in trouble in order to avert a run on those banks. They had planned this charitable event years ago, before the economy took a nosedive. They used their own PROFITS for the event.

    So along comes a wonderful news outlet known as TMZ (cough, cough). “News” organizations and writers (such as yourself) fall for the BS and don’t apply an ounce of critical thinking or logic to the situation. Pathetic.

    Then fat faced Barney Frank wants to talk about protecting the American public over such abuses. Baloney. Why didn’t he protect me by not passing the TARP fiasco in the first place. In a capitalist system you do not reward the companies that don’t know how to run their businesses. We’ve got it all backwards in America theses days – save the dopes that are failing instead of letting them fail, and criticize the successful companies like Northern Trust that run their businesses well for something that they didn’t even do. Well done America.

    Now even profitable corporations will be less likely to hold these charitable events, which means less money for charity, and less employment for the companies and people who help put on these events. Just what we need in this economic climate. Wrong.

    And Connor, if you’re a journalism major, try to do better going forward. The world’s news organizations don’t need any more lazy, non-critical thinkers.

  • J

    John Williamson Richmond VaMar 5, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    I disagree with this notion that Northern Trust did anything wrong. They took the bailout money for patriotic reasons – because the government asked them to take part in the program. Furthermore the California event is an important way for them to have people meet and exchange ideas. In other words, it’s how business is generated. It was a company-sponsored stimulus program and more companies should be doing the exact same thing – whether they are getting bailout money or not. I don’t think that NT has anything to apologize for.

  • J

    Jack AntaramianMar 5, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Why did they have to apologize? Northern Trust made over $650 Million in 2008 and paid for it with earned funds not bailout funds that they were forced to accept.The charity has raised over $50 Million.Since when does that require an apology. Why don’t you get a life and get all the facts.