Tea Party To Organize Awards Ceremony In Honor Of American Business Heroes

Pinto Awards.

Imagine it, the Tea Party holding a ceremony to honor businessmen and business women, not to mention scam artists, swindlers and crooks – the Pinto Awards.

I was watching the Emmy Awards last week when it struck me that what we need in this country today is a ceremony to honor businessmen and business women, not to mention scam artists, swindlers and crooks. As I imagine it this gala, modeled on the Emmys, would allow the Tea Party crowd to get out for a night and stop obsessing about Obamacare. All the big names in nut job circles would gather. David and Charles Koch could walk the red carpet dressed in fashionable suits sewn from thousand dollar bills. Sarah Palin could stir the loins of lusty conservative as she passed in a Herve Leger bandage dress. And where the Emmys had Neil Patrick Harris as emcee, The Pinto Awards would have Senator Ted Cruz, foe of all things government.

These awards would be named, of course, after the famed Ford Pinto of the 1970s, which, because of a design flaw Ford knew about, had an unfortunate tendency to erupt in a giant fireball whenever hit in a rear-end collision.

Or, as a legal expert put it later:

Although Ford had access to a new design which would decrease the possibility of the Ford Pinto from exploding, the company chose not to implement the design, which would have cost $11 per car, even though it had done an analysis showing that the new design would result in 180 less deaths.

Whatever! Who cares about a few incinerated drivers and passengers!

Ask any Tea Partier and they will tell you that only free market principles can save our nation from union thugs, a livable minimum wage and the taint of socialized medicine.

Let’s give them a night to celebrate!

In this scenario a “Best Banker” Pinto® (I am hereby copyrighting my idea) would have carry the same prestige as “Best Actor in a Drama” at the Emmys. An early favorite might be Arthur Budovsky, head of Liberty Reserve, recently indicted only because his company had been accused of laundering $6 billion for customers that included drug dealers and child pornography rings.

Budovsky would be tough to beat. But who could say that Steven A. Cohen of SAC Capital Advisors wouldn’t give him a run for the money. And we do mean “a run for the money.” Federal investigators are examining the records of his hedge fund and may demand that SAC pay a $2 billion penalty. (In Tea Party circles, of course, Cohen’s chances are enhanced by the fact that he had the chutzpah recently to spend $155 million to purchase his very own Picasso.)

So many deserving businesses and individuals! How about JPMorgan Chase, a company that would be in the running for a number of cherished Pinto® Awards? Jaime Dimon, Chase CEO, is another contender for “Best Banker.”

Certainly, JPMorgan has done excellent work this year, displaying the kind of “blow-up-the-Pinto” spirit that made America great. This week the company agreed to pay $309 million to 2.1 million credit card holders to settle claims they scammed customers. And let’s not ignore the $920 million fine they agreed to pay to settle criminal charges in the “London Whale” case which caused $6 billion in losses to investors.

A sentimental favorite for a “Best Bookkeeping” Pinto® and a company right there in Senator Cruz’s back yard would be Henry’s Turkey Service out of Texas. The company had to pay a judgment of $240 million in back wages this summer after being found guilty of profiting for decades by supplying mentally disabled workers to an Iowa turkey plant at wages of 41 cents per hour. Even more impressive: this was the company’s third trip to court, including a ruling in 2009 that closed down a rundown bunkhouse in Iowa where 32 employees lived. Proving that free enterprise always works—that unions are unnecessary because bosses will always do right by workers—those men had been living there happily since the 1970s and hadn’t demanded a raise once. Okay—so they earned only $65 dollars a month after deductions for rent, food and transportation. At least they weren’t covered by some damn socialized medical plan.

A nomination for “Best Actor in Front of a Congressional Hearing” might go to Apple CEO Timothy Cook. He told a Senate committee in May that his company would love to pay more taxes but the law just doesn’t allow it. Cook could have locked up an award if only he’d had the foresight to start crying at some point during his testimony: “Yes, it’s….so…hard paying…just one tenth of one percent in taxes on $22 billion in profits for one of our subsidiaries, (insert sobbing) and… no taxes at all on another $30 billion because a second subsidiary filed no tax returns at all. It’s just…really hard. Apple Operations is incorporated in Ireland…but holds board meetings in this country and…(sob, sob) who knows where to file for tax purposes?”

Get that CEO a hankie!

How about Starbucks—up for a “Best Accounting in a Foreign Venue” Pinto® after paying the British government $13 million in taxes on $5 billion in profits over the last fifteen years? Great job tax lawyers! That’s a percentage of .026.

But can anyone beat General Electric? Pinto Academy voters are going to have a tough time going against GE, a company which kept $108 billion in profits parked overseas this year to avoid paying U. S. taxes. (You figure someone at GE deserves a “Lifetime Achievement” Pinto® when you think that the company paid zero taxes on profits in 2010.)

In a touching moment during the Pinto Awards, I imagine organizers showing a video clip of Jeffrey Skilling speaking from his jail cell, talking about how much unfettered free markets have always meant to him, now that efforts are afoot to get him out of jail early.

I mean, really! When is this captain of industry going to get justice? It’s not like he’s some scumbag offender who violated a “three strikes” law. He’s no Leandro Andrade who earned a life sentence in California when his third strike involved stealing $153 worth of children’s videotapes. Skilling made one little mistake when he and Ken Lay ran Enron and happened to wipe out $60 billion dollars in stock market value.

Hey, economic shit happens.

Imagine proud executives from West Fertilizer Incorporated hoisting a “Safety Last” Pinto® and celebrating, after they took a courageous stand for free enterprise and decided this spring not to notify federal authorities that they were storing 270 tons of volatile ammonium nitrate on site. Blowing up their own facility, leveling most of the town of West, Texas, and killing and injuring dozens of bystanders and first responders also qualifies the company for an award in the category of “Best Special Effects.”

Wal-Mart might win for dumping hazardous materials in local sewers and waterways and getting fined $82 million for violating one of the coolest-named laws ever passed by Congress: The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. In this winning scenario a customer returns a container of pesticides for some reason. Fine. The customer is always right. Just send a clerk out back and dump the crap down the nearest sewer.

Massey Energy gets a nomination in the “Continuing Investigation” category for the role the company played in the deaths of twenty-nine West Virginia miners in 2010. These deaths were ruled “entirely preventable” and found to be a result of a decision by top executives to keep two sets of safety records, one for company use, the other to fake out federal inspectors. Various bosses have been indicted, others invoked the Fifth Amendment and hired lawyers, and Massey was cited for nine flagrant safety violations and fined $209 million.

And what self-respecting Tea Partier could vote against Loren Goodridge after the owner of twenty-one Subway franchises told reporters he planned to cut hours for employees, even those who had worked for him for more than a decade, to avoid their qualifying for coverage under the evil, abominable, dastardly Affordable Healthcare Act?

Glafira Rosales, a New York City art dealer would be a favorite in the “Small Business Scam” category after she was indicted for her role in a scheme to sell 63 fake art masterworks. Collectively, the pieces brought in $80 million, with galleries keeping fat commissions and Rosales pocketing $20 million. (One aggrieved hedge fund manager filed suit after forking over $17 million for a fake—which seems like Salvador Dali’s idea of karma.)

The pornography industry might win for reacting, albeit slowly, to the spread of HIV among industry “actors.”

And I see Novartis, a Swiss drug manufacturer, walking away with the “Best Scam by a Foreign Artist” Pinto® after federal authorities charged the company with paying doctors millions of dollars in kickbacks to tout Novartis products.

Let’s not forget Goldman Sachs either. This proud firm would be an odds-on favorite to capture the “Stand the Law of Supply and Demand on Its Head” Pinto® as a result of an investigation into complaints that the company was intentionally creating delays to drive up the price of aluminum.

In case you missed this touching story of hard-working business people striving to make a buck (or maybe a billion), let us honor Goldman for buying up control of Metropolitan International Trade Services in 2010, a Detroit area company that stored metals in dozens of warehouses. Soon companies that needed aluminum were complaining about delays in shipments. Waits of six weeks turned into waits of sixteen months and Goldman tried manfully to fix the problem, but couldn’t because of what execs said was a shortage of forklifts and drivers. Unfortunately, there were only enough forklifts and trucks to load 1,000 tons of aluminum in Warehouse A and ship it over to Warehouse B and unload. Then Warehouse B loaded and shipped another stack of 1,000 tons of aluminum over to Warehouse C and unloaded. Then C loaded and shipped a third stack of 1,000 tons to Warehouse A, and then filled out the paperwork to show that, hey, what can we do? We shipped the 3,000 tons of aluminum we were required to ship every day under an agreement with producers. We can’t help it if there are delays.

This is how you create some jobs, and a fantastic example of how free enterprise works—with Goldman taking in an extra $5 billion in profit—and every American who purchased a new car paying just a few dollars extra.

In any case, here’s how I envision the ceremony concluding. There’s a video montage honoring great moments in free enterprise history. The audience applauds the work of Rupert Murdoch, whose entire network of media companies, newspapers, and professional lobbyists shill for the Tea Party, and whose employees once bribed London police and hacked into the cell phone of a teenage murder victim. Organizers include a shot of Bernard Ebbers and the audience relives those halcyon days, before Obama raised taxes 3%, when Ebbers could engineer an $11 billion fraud and afford a $6,000 shower curtain. Then we see a shot of the irrepressible Bernie Madoff. You just can’t keep these defenders of capitalism down! For god sakes, Madoff is still giving financial tips to guards at the federal prison where he is serving time for swindling investors!

As the curtain falls cameras pan the audience to show Glenn Beck blubbering with emotion, choked up by the glories of unfettered capitalism.

Scenes of the great BP oil spill morph into pharmaceutical manufacturers paying huge fines for false marketing of drugs like Risperdal to children. Hey, did anyone mention that this drug might increase the risks of suicide in teens?

No? Well, sorry about your daughter.

A ceremony like this would be catnip for conservatives.