It was a tough call. My mother even mentioned to my high school English teacher that I hoped to work for a newspaper someday. "Is that good?" she asked, quite puzzled about my direction in life. He took a non-committal wait-and-see attitude to avoid offending anyone.
Now, I think I was wrong. Instead of newspaper work, I should have decided to become a lobbyist. In these lean times, lobbying is a well-paid growth industry in which you can even put your movie popcorn on your expense account. These insiders are everywhere at the national and state levels.
I was again reminded of this a few days ago when I read that the pols on the "supercommittee" that will look for budget cuts in defense and health care once employed nearly 100 aides who now work as lobbyists for General Electric and other defense contractors as well as the health-care industry. The high rollers cover themselves well to make sure that nobody takes a bite from their apples.
While reading Reckless Endangerment, New York Times columnist Gretchen Morgenson's and financial analyst Joshua Rosner's inside look at Wall Street, the home mortgage industry and all of the culprits that brought down the economy, it was scary to learn how all the moving parts enriched so many people at the top and destroyed so many others at the bottom. The book's subtitle is, How outsized ambition, greed and corruption led to economic Armageddon, and upon reading the authors' argument, you might conclude that the title was the kindest thing you could say about the book's targets.
Among the evil-doers are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two private but government sponsored companies that manipulated a gold rush of home mortgages from banks to fashion a pyramid of treasure before they tumbled. But this piece was about lobbyists. So we must turn to James Johnson, Fannie Mae's chief executive in the the 90s, an influential super power in the mortgage business with both political parties who stacked the deck against the competition. As the authors tell us, Johnson personally realized $100 million in the 9 years that he enjoyed the lofty position. He was so adept at the game with Fannie Mae's "army of lobbyists" that he even paid lobbyists not to lobby against it. (My emphasis.)
In Ohio, the arrival of John Kasich brought in new crew of registered lobbyists - 375, the Plain Dealer recently reported. The paper added that today's roster has about 1,500 members, including Summit County Republican chairman Alex Arshinkoff, whose close ties to the governor has paid off handsomely for him.
Of course I'm jealous and wonder why I never thought of cashing in on this rich employment market much earlier in life instead of being content to play the piano in night clubs and at weddings while writing awful essays. Who knows? As Brando lamented in On the Waterfront, "I could have been somebody" when I walked into the governor's office before heading to the watering hole to buy everybody a drink. Who knows? Rats! Too late, now!