Wall Street bailouts for Haiti, anyone?

Haiti-BailoutsHaiti. <Sigh.> Horror of horrors indeed. And yet it’s humbling moments like this that seem to unify us as a nation and bring out the best in us (well, most of us). Despite the recessionary environment, pledges of food, supplies, and money keep pouring in—from celebrities, companies, and citizens alike—across the country and globe to provide Haiti with the help its residents most desperately need. George Clooney, naturally, is co-producing the Hope for Haiti telethon, (co-hosted with Wyclef Jean) to broadcast this Friday night across numerous stations. I also read that Brad Pitt (and Angelina Jolie) and Sandra Bullock each donated $1 million, and I’m certain more is to come from the entertainment world.

Much of the financial sector—Citibank, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, to name a few companies—have each earmarked an average of $1 million to the cause as well. Now I must pause. <Second sigh.> And I must say, Whoa. $1 million apiece from Wall Street folks? That’s it?


Granted, $1 million is nothing to sneeze at, especially if you’re Haitian. Still, that downtown generosity takes on a different hue when you consider recent activities of the finance industry and its negative effect on this country. Just a year after the crash and bailout, the payouts in banker bonuses are positively in the billions. You read that right—billions. Never has a million seem so… repulsive.

Economist Paul Krugman got it right in this New York Times Op-Ed column. The bankers have had no clue, and as far as I can tell, they remain clueless. Whether they accept responsibility for the financial tailspin or not, they have a bad PR and morale problem that makes the tribulations of Tiger Woods seem like, well, a round of golf. Call me a Pollyanna of sorts, but isn’t there a prime and humanitarian opportunity in all of this for the Wall Street crowd to work on rebuilding its image? Where is the damage control? Clearly, helping Haiti is a start. It’s no accident that the tremors about the big bonus payouts shook up the news cycles the same week Haiti did.

Here’s a thought: Maybe the $100-million dollar pledge by Obama (USA) to Haiti could be subsidized by the boys on Wall Street? Or maybe some of the boys can pay attention to the damage (intentional or not) done at home. Maybe Morgan Stanley could sponsor a spin-off of Extreme Makeover and call it Extreme Bailout.

But then again. I’m a Pollyanna of sorts—and they are bankers without a clue.

Filed: branding, cause marketing, entertainment

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