Life style is rich and despicable.

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Life style is rich and despicable.

Carl read three stories about chief executives’ wacky hobbies, high profits, furniture superstitions and the AIG MIA.

CARL KASELL:

From NPR and Chicago public radio, this is waiting… Don’t tell me! NPR news. I’m Carl Kasell. Here is your host, Peter Sagal, of the brown theatre at Wortham center in Houston, Texas.

PETER SAGAL:

Thanks, Carl. Thank you.

(voice of application)

SAGAL: thank you. Thank you, Houston. Yeah, it’s kind of exciting, isn’t it? Hey, I have a question. Anybody remember money? You know, this is a green piece of paper. Before the financial collapse, we used it to buy things, turning us into an economic system based on the exchange of shells and mutual modification.

(laughter.)

SAGAL: anyway, this week, we put the theme of the show on money: who owns it, how to use it, and how people do it. Two members of Texas’s great rock band ZZ Top, Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons will give us some lessons about big events.

(voice of application)

SAGAL: first of all, it’s your turn to call 1-888-924-8924 for free. Now is the time to welcome our first listeners. Hey, you’re waiting… Don’t tell me!

M: hey, that’s Jordan Deckenbach from Washington, d.c.

SAGAL: hey, Jordan. So what are you doing in Washington?

M: I’m a lawyer.

SAGAL: ah.

M: that’s a surprise, isn’t it?

SAGAL: I see. You have so many people in Washington. Have you ever moved in a great herd?

(laughter.)

M: we do. We do. This is the way we like to travel.

SAGAL: yes. Ok, welcome to Jordan. Let me introduce our group this week. First of all, please download audio books and audio books from Mr. Tom Bodett near you. “it’s like I tell you: 25 years of commentary and comics.”

M: hello, Jordan.

M: Tom.

(voice of application)

SAGAL: next, say hello to the comedian in the first CD, “I Heart Jokes,” now Paula Poundstone.

M: hi, Jordan.

(voice of application)

M: hey, Paula.

Sager: and finally, the Houston chronicle’s deputy editor and blogger, Houston’s own kelly o ‘connor.

(voice of application)

M: hi, Jordan.

M: hello.

SAGAL: Jordan, welcome to the show. Now, as I said, the theme of this week’s show is money, and we’re going to ask you to play the new game that we’ve invented for this occasion, which we call…

Cassell: a dirty lifestyle.

M: ok.

SAGAL: ok. You’re a lawyer. You know all these things. You are very good.

M: DC, we are full of them.

SAGAL: yes. Never, then, have so many people lost so much in 2008. We’ll give you clues to how the three financial titans can entertain themselves, and we’re fighting for the last can of beans. Your job is to guess what they are doing. Twice in three, you’ll win Carl’s voice on your home answering machine. Ready to play?

M: let’s do it.

SAGAL: well, we’re going to start with one of the first companies that went out of business. We’re talking about investment bank bear stearns. Carl, tell us their CEO James Kane.

Cassell: the tycoon is enjoying his happiness on the table. He doesn’t eat. He’s playing. After competing with his rivals, he likes to fight back, turn on the black light, and play a hand with a bridge partner named Mary Jane.

(laughter.)

Sager: according to the Wall Street journal, in any case, Mr. Cayne may not have noticed the imploding of his bank because he was too busy to build Bridges and do what?

Male: smoking weed.

SAGAL: you bet.

(voice)

(voice of application)

Sager: recall that bear stearns should never be an executive recruiter from people selling furniture outside the “Thanksgiving death” concert. Before he became a multimillionaire financial giant, Mr Cain was a competitive bridge man. Even though his company has lost billions of dollars, he still has time to play in tournaments, disappearing for days or weeks during the crisis. And the Wall Street journal says that after a day of hard work on the table, Mr. Cain, who is in his 60s, lit up a doobie. He denied a specific charge, but if he was indulged, he would say: wow, man, you have a real problem halo.

(laughter.)

M: you know, the story of his smoking actually reassuring, because when you see this confusion, these are highly education, experience, all this, just totally promote the things on the earth. And, to think that maybe they were just stoned to death, somehow.

SAGAL: yeah, like…

M: that’s not malice, not greed, but pure mind.

SAGAL: buying all these difficult assets is just a financial way.

(laughter.)

(voice of application)

SAGAL: oh, man, I can eat a whole set of subprime loans right now. Todd: ok, Jordan, that’s good. Now, as the economy collapses, the next one to fall is merrill lynch, an old investment bank that has been under scrutiny by its chief executive, John thain, as an independent company. Carl, introduce Mr. Thain.

Cassell: well, Peter, he’s not the kind of guy who let down the U.S. financial system and let him down. He has a real $8,000 sofa made of real unicorn leather.

(laughter.)

Cassell: and queen Anne’s chair.

(laughter.)

SAGAL: thain became notorious for spending $1.2 million on corporate money when his bank collapsed.

M: redecorate his office.

SAGAL: yes.

(voice)

(voice of application)

SAGAL: everyone knows that this is a business truth. You can’t destroy one of Wall Street’s most important institutions behind your desk. John thain is the highest-paid executive in the United States. He earns $82 million a year. However, he submitted more than $1 million in furniture income reimbursement. A few months later, merrill lynch was acquired by bank of America, with $20 billion in taxpayer bailouts. As for Mr Thain, he did say that he regretted the whole thing. ‘if I do that again, I will be at ikea,’ he said.

(laughter.)

M: you know, I have a comprehensive theory about merrill lynch.

SAGAL: yes.

M: remember that day they were merrill lynch, Pierce, finner and Smith?

SAGAL: well.

M: I think Pierce, finner and Smith are smart people.

Sager: yes, whatever happened to them?

(laughter.)

SAGAL: ok, Jordan, there’s another one to go. AIG was one of the most notorious failures of the crisis, and the insurance giant ended up with $100 billion or more. During the crisis, it went through chief executives like taxpayers’ cash, and Carl will tell you the last.

Cassell: AIG’s new chief executive works hard and works hard. In fact, we are not sure if he works hard. He doesn’t care about S 500; He wants SPF 30.

SAGAL: so what was Robert Benmosche’s first bold move after AIG, which took over in the summer of 2009?

M: I went to a warm place. I guess the Bahamas.

SAGAL: okay, close enough. He went on holiday at once.

(voice)

SAGAL: so imagine your team loses in the second half and you’re closer to your star. Then he ran to the field, past the mound, and reached the concession stand of some corn flakes.

(laughter.)

Sager: Robert benmosh has come up with an excuse for what he has planned for some time. Of course, the company has just received billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money, but the carnival cruise ship offers endless chocolate fountains in the dessert buffet.

(laughter.)

SAGAL: once he comes back from the trip, Benmosche announces that he still gives bonuses, quotes, and crimes to AIG executives. He didn’t say so. He said the bonus was good – telling people about their crime.

(laughter.)

M: well, that poor guy, he’s the CEO of AIG. If you have so many letters, you did something wrong.

SAGAL: that’s true.

M: you should have a word there.

M: yes, chief executive…

SAGAL: OMG.

(laughter.)

Sager: Carl, what did Jordan do to our test?

Cassell: well, Jordan is a winner, Peter. He has three correct answers, so I’ll make a message on his home answering machine.

Sager: well done, Jordan.

(voice of application)

M: thank you.

SAGAL: congratulations.

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