In the "What the hell were they thinking" department...

The New York Stock Exchange, all lit up for the holidays. Nice display, but is this really an appropriate message to send to Wall Street?
Written by Jason Perlow, Senior Contributing Writer
The New York Stock Exchange, all lit up for the holidays. Nice display, but is this really an appropriate message to send to Wall Street? Or an appropriate use of company funds? Click on the photo for a full-size image. In my last post, "Policing Holiday Light Violations" I appear to have hit a raw nerve with a lot of ZDNet's readers when I made my New Jersey-style attempt at "lightening up" an otherwise miserable holiday season. Many of you feel I shouldn't be judging my neighbors tastes or skills at lighting up their homes for Christmas. Okay, I've heard you. My bad. Blame our Editor in Chief, he thought it was hilarious. What is not so hilarious, however, is how companies waste money on frivolous things especially during such a dire economic crisis, when millions of people are out of work and several of the nation's largest companies are on the brink of bankruptcy. Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more. What brought my particular ire this last week was when I was walking down Wall Street in New York City, where I spotted the above over-the-top lighting display, complete with 65-foot Christmas tree, on the New York Stock Exchange. Now, normally I'd think this was really cool, and great for tourism, but really, can we truly say that after 6PM, Wall Street and the Financial district is actually a TOURIST attraction? No, the area pretty much clears out. People work there, and they go home. I'd really be angry if the NYSE was a public institution and was wasting taxpayer money on this. However, a little bit of research shows that the NYSE is operated by NYSE-Euronext (Ticker: NYX) a for-profit corporation. So the company is just spreading a bit of holiday cheer, right? If Wall Street weren't neck deep in economic doggy doo, and that several of our financial institutions hadn't just failed and weren't spending 700 billion dollars of taxpayer bailout funds -- of which nearly 350 billion has already been spent and hasn't been properly accounted for, I'd be willing to leave it at that. However, I think this display sends totally the wrong message, particularly when most people probably don't realize NYSE is a public corporation and not a government-owned entity. Look, I don't know what a 65-foot Norway Spruce decorated with 80,000 lights and 60,000 feet of electrical wire along with a huge lighted facade on the Exchange itself costs. But I'm sure it is a LOT of money. Money that COULD have been donated to feed New York City's homeless and unemployed -- or money that could have been conserved by the company to save a few of their own employees' jobs. I understand that this is a tradition that NYSE has been doing for 85 years. But this isn't just any old year for Wall Street. Perhaps next year they should think twice about doing something so frivolous. Should NYSE and other public corporations be spending money frivolously during the holiday season? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

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