What could be done with $20 billion? A whole lot of Wall Street bankers are about to find out. $20 billion’s what the New York Comptroller’s office says the Street’s bonuses bounced back to in 2009 — up 17 percent from the year of the crash. According to the latest data the average bonus was $123,850, at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan Chase, all of which taxpayers bailed out. Their bonuses this year were almost a third bigger than last year. It gives a whole new meaning to failing up. As six million Americans–or one in fifty–face life with food stamps as their only income, (for more on that, see yesterday’s GRITtv) and a national average of six applicants show up for every job. It boggles the mind to think of how that $20 billion could be spent.

Our friends at Mother Jones aren’t boggled, they’ve put together a nifty list of suggestions for alternative spending. Want a bonus for the country, not the country-club? 1. You could pay the salaries of more than 390,000 public school teachers across the country. 2. You could close nearly all of California’s gaping budget hole. 3. You could almost cover unemployment-fund shortfalls, now nearing $25 billion, in 25 different states. 4. You could more than double the amount of Pell Grant funding given to students from low-income backgrounds who might not attend college otherwise. 5. You could increase the budget of the Small Business Administration by more than 35 times. Thanks to Mother Jones for the list. I’ll add a sixth — you could fund all the independent media in the country — just about for ever…. Fancy making your own suggestions? Send them here: Laura@grittv.org. The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter.com.