By Ann Woolner
The Indians sought no bailout, no handout when they filed suit in 1996 to claim royalties due them for oil, gas, timber, mining and grazing rights to lands allotted them under an 1887 agreement with the federal government.
The government had no obligation to do that. Or to bail out Chrysler or General Motors. It had no legal responsibility to rescue Wall Street’s hot-shot risk-takers.
The $3.4 billion the Indians got amounts to roughly a third of Goldman Sachs’s government bailout. It’s little more than one-tenth the loss the government expects to suffer from its AIG bailout.
Executives balk at the idea of capping pay at $500,000 in firms that haven’t repaid the government. The Indian settlement will come to $1,500 to $2,500 for most of the beneficiaries.
But the accounting would've been difficult if not impossible. So the government had to come up with an arbitrary settlement figure.
The question is: Why didn't the government err on the generous side with Indian account holders the way it did with AIG and Goldman Sachs? Why not give them double or triple what they were owed as a penalty for the government's malfeasance? Why were the criminally negligent banks rewarded while the innocently victimized Indians weren't?
Answer: Because rich white people own and operate the banking firms. The rich white people in Congress protected their own while letting the poor brown people suffer. It's Hurricane Katrina all over again. Billions in taxcuts and bailouts for those who don't need them; pennies on the dollar for those who do.
For more on the Cobell case, see Cobell Settlement = "Reparations"?!. For more on Indians and bailouts, see Satire: Sioux Attack Wall Street and Indians and Bankers Mismanage Money?
Below: Cowboy capitalism means bankers get bailed out while Indians get burned.