...Weill was CEO of Citigroup, the largest of the “too-big-to-fail” banks bailed out by taxpayers. Last year he gave $12 million for SSU’s new Green Music Center (GMC). At issue are how Weill got that money and what strings were attached to his passing it on to SSU.
A major purveyor of toxic mortgages, Citigroup required $45 billion in government investment and a $300 billion guarantee of its bad assets to avoid bankruptcy.
Weill retired shortly before the 2008 crash.
“Laughing All the Way From the Bank” was the New York Times headline.
“Sandy Weill is greedy,” says graduating senior Melanie Sanders. “He is a symbol of a nation’s economy becoming increasingly unbalanced and building the accounts of the ultra rich on the backs of the very poor. Half of my school loans are with Citigroup. I once took out $15,000 in student loans. Now $29,365 is due.”
Such debt doubling is no longer unusual.
It used to be called usury and was considered at least immoral and often illegal. Weill, Citigroup and other big banks create debt bondage to banks. .
The national student debt recently reached $1 trillion,
which is larger than all the credit card debt.
What futures might these college students have to look forward to?
“I am financially broken by his former company and unlikely to recover. I am compelled to protest this award. I must now call my grandma and explain that I will be protesting at my graduation ceremony. I am personally offended that he will be at my graduation and receiving a degree,” Sanders added. SSU offends many by this decision.
“Weill represents a misuse of power, a lack of accountability, and economic abuse of people,” commented another graduating student, Christopher Bowers.
“Tainted money” and “reparations for ill-gotten sins” is how one retired faculty member describes Weill’s gift. He adds that the honorary degree is a symbolic “absolution of sins.”
Citigroup has paid many fines over the years, including $3 billion for involvement in the Enron scandal. As California’s Attorney General Jerry Brown wrote that Citigroup “knowingly stole from customers, mostly poor people and the recently deceased.” It has been charged numerous times with fraud, conflict of interest, and outright theft.
“For He’s a Jolly Good Scoundrel” entitles editor Robert Scheer article in the April 19 The Nation issue. It describes Weill as a “hustler who led the successful lobbying to reverse the Glass-Steagall law” in 1999. Enacted after the Great Depression to protect us from the kind of economic collapse that we are now experiencing, it had been a firewall between investment and commercial banks...
-- Shepherd Bliss,
Shame on Sonoma State University