Taxpayer money to re-train investment bankers?

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced that the city would like to spend $45 million to retrain laid-off financial industry workers and provide capital and resources for businesses they might start. The New York Times reports that the city is hoping to gain access to $30 million of federal incentives to attract businesses to New York City.

Coping With the Economy

    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city would like to spend $45 million to retrain laid-off financial industry workers and provide capital and resources for businesses they might start.

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Wait. Stop. Hold up. Does Mayor Bloomberg mean to tell me that after the New York City financial geniuses ruined the economy and then used taxpayer funding to pay themselves bonuses and save their jobs, taxpayers are now supposed to send them more money so that they can start their own businesses, find new jobs, or gain skills that actually have value beyond the Alice in Wonderland world of financial engineering? In making the case, the city reports that the financial services industry has "been central to the health of the U.S. economy." What? Isn't that kind of like saying that tobacco has been central to the health of lung cancer patients?
I can understand the point of providing help to secretaries and back-office staff who were earning a relative pittance before they lost jobs at firms that collapsed as a result of factors they had no control over or knowledge of. In a press release announcing the initiatives, the city pointed out that "More than half of the people working in the City's financial services sector make less than $100,000 per year." That's all well and good but keep in mind that that's still a heck of a lot more than most people make. In 2007, that national median income was just $36,140. So more than half of people on Wall Street earned less than 2.75 times what the median person earns. And those are the people most deserving of free help?

But nevermind the people who are earning less than $100k. What about the slightly less than half that are earning more than that? Is job training and discounted office space for former jet setting investment bankers really a valid use of public money? I know: We're supposed to feel bad because they spent their lavish bonuses on private school tuition and yachting, but somehow I just don't buy that that makes them candidates for glorified welfare.

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