Just days after procuring a $326 billion bailout and $20 billion capital injection from the federal government, just a week after divulging its intention to lay off 52,000 workers, Citigroup is publicly confirming and remaining steadfast in its plan to pay $400 million for naming rights to the New York Mets’ new baseball stadium.
Perhaps I’m biased because I’m a lifelong fan of the Philadelphia Phillies, but I sure as heck do not want my money spent on a giant sign at a Major League Baseball park, and if I were one of the 52,000 Citigroup employees facing a rougher 2009, I’d be absolutely livid.
I don’t get it, though — the aforementioned Reuters piece in which Citi confirms its deal with the Mets was published last Friday. We’ve been talking every day since then about the use of private aircraft by executives at the “Big Three” automakers in the wake of their pleas for a $25 billion bailout, yet we’ve heard next to nothing about Citi’s $326 billion dollar take and intention to pay $400 million for naming rights to Citi Field.
To me, this is all the more reason for government to get out of the banking business and the business of business in general, this is all the more reason to not bail anybody out, and the argument that Citi is simply “too big to fail” just doesn’t fly with me. Not if the company refuses to change its habits.
Listen, after a fairly personal explanation of our own financial situation, urging from readers and careful, introspective deliberation on my part, I put up a mechanism here at America’s Right by which readers can make a contribution should they wish. What Citigroup wants to do with even a small percentage of the taxpayer-funded bailout money is essentially the equivalent of me taking those generous contributions and buying myself a new Ralph Lauren suit when the few suits I already have fit me just fine. Any contributions I do receive–thank you, by the way–go to things like diapers, food, energy bills, and so on and so forth. I wouldn’t think to do otherwise.
In our house, we’ve been forced to change our spending habits, change our priorities, and scrutinize each and every purchase made with our limited funds. We don’t go out to dinner, save for special occasions. We buy our groceries at a Wal-Mart Supercenter and at a discount supermarket. We buy in bulk and freeze, freeze, freeze. We shut off the lights when we leave the room, and turn down the heat when we leave the house. We’ve seen the difference in money coming in and money going out, we’ve adjusted as much as we can. I expect the same from Citigroup and any other responsible company facing hard times.
While $400 million may be just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the bailout as a whole, $326 billion works out to be about $1000 from every living American man, woman and child and, if it going to be given to Citi at all, Citi should use that money responsibly and ensure it goes toward restructuring and solutions for the long term — that being said, spending $400 million for stadium naming rights just doesn’t seem like a good cost-benefit trade-off.