In case you want a good, concise example of why so many people had such a visceral revulsion to the Paulson bailout plan, Kim Peterson, of MSN's Money Blog, has this:
Congress wants to crack down on CEO mega-salaries for banks participating in the bailout. And while the politicians argue how best to do that, Alan Fishman of Washington Mutual is headed for the doors with $19 million in his pocket.
If that wasn't outrageous enough, consider this: Fishman started the job three weeks ago. I never saw the employment ad Fishman answered, but it must have read something like this:
WANTED: Top executive for train-wreck bank about to be seized by federal regulators. Must be able to look busy while FDIC sells business from under you. Previous experience with angry shareholders sitting on worthless stock a plus. Perks: $7.5 million hiring bonus and $11.6 million cash severance.
Fishman got the best temp gig in history. He gets to keep the bonus and severance pay, though he must stay on the job while JPMorgan Chase completes its purchase of WaMu's banking assets.
Peterson points out that Fishman wasn't the one responsible for WaMu's collapse, so he's not necessarily a bad guy. Just in the right place at the right time. Which is the point. There's a world out there we can't even comprehend. But the people in it have too much power. And "our" government shouldn't be protecting them at our expense.
In closing, I'd just like to say that if the board of any other failing bank is looking for a temp CEO, I'm willing to step up to the challenge. I'm even offering my services at a marked down bargain price of half what Fishman got. I promise to do absolutely nothing. Maybe just take long naps. Granted, I'm not even remotely qualified for the job, but I am ready, willing, and able to wing it. Which seems to be enough, these days, for just under half the population. And I guarantee I won't do any worse than Fishman did. If WaMu had only called, I could have saved them millions.