Dear Mr. Pandit, Citigroup CEO
Last year kind of sucked for everyone with the financial industry meltdown, the housing industry slump, the steep nosedive the stock market took, the near bankruptcy of the auto industry, the worst unemployment seen in decades, and the trillions of dollars of debt that U.S. is piling up that will take probably a generation to repay. And who gets to foot the bill, “That’s right, Me, Joe Taxpayer, is who!” As you might be able to possibly imagine, (sitting up in your ivory tower full of entitlements) it has been a pretty depressing time for us average citizen taxpayers.
With all the horrid news every day, it has started to wear on our family and I was hoping things would turn around a bit in 2009. Maybe if things get a little better we might be able to afford to get away for a few days and have a margarita
somewhere warm and tropical.
We still have a few dollars squirreled away for a rejuvenating get away, but not a lot. Our 401K and other investments have taken a big beating, like millions of others, and will probably take at least 5 years to get back to where it was. So much for retiring on time!
So, I started looking at air fares for our presumed getaway. Seems that airline fares went up and up and up when oil went to $147 per barrel last July, then never came down. The $25 per bag add-on fees went into place at most airlines, then never came off when oil subsequently took a steep nose dive back down to $36 per barrel. What gives with that?
So the air fares to those tropical destinations I was hoping to visit, have doubled or tripled in the last year and there is no sign they will be abating any time soon. See, airlines have also cut routes and trip frequency to many destinations when the high oil prices hit, and those do not look to come back any time soon. Less routes and trip frequency means less competition, so airlines don’t have to drop their rates to be competitive anymore. Thus, average citizens like me can’t afford a vacation anyway because fares are getting goofy. Many taxpayers have already lost their jobs, or will. Others with perfectly good jobs have seen the value of their house plummet, and face an upside down mortgage now, or yet another prime or sub-prime loan default. Others have lost both their houses and jobs and face the prospect of living under a bridge somewhere. Seriously! Hope some of that new stimulus infrastructure money takes into consideration the improvement of bridges as living accommodations.
But, per our politicians, we must “Toughen up Cupcake!” and foot the bill for the “Heading-toward-a-trillion” TARP program, plus another $800B – $1T stimulus package that will be “ours-to-pay-for” come mid February. Oh, and we need to make sure we bail out the “auto” industry, and probably a few more industries that have yet to be named. It seems like all of corporate America is asking for a bailout these days. All I want to know is, “Where’s my bailout?” Somehow, I don’t think my Senators are going to ring me up anytime soon and offer me a piece of TARP.
So, here’s my question,”Do you think we might catch a ride on “our” brand spanking new Citigroup (NYSE:C) $50 million corporate jet to whatever tropical destination you might be visiting this year?” I figure that since Citigroup received $45 billion from U.S. taxpayers it effectively is our plane anyway. I saw the PR you put out saying that “TARP funds would not be used to pay for it”, but “Come On”, you as a banker know that money is fungible so in reality taxpayers just bought you a brand freakin’ new cool corporate jet.
We would be very quiet and sit at the back of the plane, and not take up much room. We’ll even bring our own peanuts. You will never even know we are there. We, obviously, would not be able to afford staying at the Ritz Carlton with you when we get to our tropical destination, but we bought one of those nicer popup dome camping tents during the “good times” and we’ll find a KOA or other similar campground we can stay at near the beach. Besides, if things get worse it will be good practice for when we lose our jobs and our home and have to contemplate the “Living-Under-A-Bridge” thing ourselves.
Anyway, just wanted to drop you a note and check your travel schedule for the year. Let me know if there is anywhere warm and fun you are going and how we might be able to hitch a ride, cause us taxpayers need a break too!