Boondoggle Multipliers

I’m surprised there weren’t any howls out of Washington today about Citi’s plans to pay its employees for the recognition trips they missed.

You remember the fuss that Barney Frank and others kicked up about several trips they had planned to warm weather locales for their high performers. Faced with his populist pomposity Citi cancelled the trips.

I guess they still thought their people deserved something though. Reuters reports that they plan to give them cash instead of the trips.

Citigroup Inc is paying about $13 million to compensate employees who had been expected to go on various trips that were later canceled, a person familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The bank is paying 1,900 employees of its Primerica Financial Services unit $5,000 each, after canceling a February trip for top agents to a Bahamas resort, according to the person, who declined to be named because the information is not public. 

Citigroup also awarded employees of its Smith Barney unit $3.5 million of debit cards in lieu of trips, the person said.

As the politicians like to remind us, money is fungible. So this has to represent an expenditure of TARP funds as well. Right? So can we expect Nanny Barney to start hectoring Citi about this one? He has to if he’s going to be consistent.

But, seriously, wouldn’t it have been much better for the economy if they just took the trips. Think about it, all these people go to a hotel, spend not just Citi’s money (oops the taxpayers money — forgot the politically correct phrasing there) but also some of their own. Maids and bartenders get extra shifts to handle the business and the tips flow.

The hotel workers and other businesses turn around and spend some of the money the Citi people are spreading around and so on and so on. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work.

But noooo, a certain Congressman has to get on his soapbox and rant about pampering the rich with the taxpayers money and poof goes the trip. So what do you think the employees are going to do with this money now. If you guess along with me that they don’t feel real good right now about their future, then we probably agree as well that the money goes right into their savings account.

There’s a little lesson here about government interference, multipliers and central planning.

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