Friday, March 20, 2009

Misdirected Anger

Yes, yes... I know. The whole world is mad at AIG. They have, after all, received much taxpayer money -- and then appeared to be squandering it with lavish resort vacations for their executives. Of course this is irritating. And wrong.

But in the latest "scandal" involving AIG, it really appears to me that the anger is a bit misdirected. To paint the picture clearly...

First of all, AIG has not received only one government bailout. After the first bailout of $85 billion in September of 2008, AIG executives went to California on a posh trip. In November of 2008, AIG receives another $150 billion. Chump change, right? Ah... but that's not all. See, AIG was a recipient of "stimulus package" money as well... and language was specifically drafted within that package to include these bonuses for AIG employees. Any bonus promised before the drafting of the stimulus legislation was going to be paid. 

The American people are understandably upset at this turn of events. When you're talking about bonuses of millions of dollars, the taxpayer should not be footing that bill. If the company is in the tank, my opinion is that we should let it tank. (Not a popular opinion, I know. But as I've confessed before, I'm a radical capitalist - so there.) But... BUT... when the government specifically drafts legislation saying that they're going to be stupid with the taxpayer's money, anger for that should be directed at congress -- not at the executives at AIG.

And I think it was... and I think congress doesn't like so many angry phone calls. So their solution? To demand release of the names of AIG bonus recipients. Wow. Nothing like throwing a group of citizens under the bus. 

Of course, the congress went further than that, then. They also passed a new law that would tax all these bonuses at 90%. 

But here's the naked truth. Of course the bonuses shouldn't have been given. DUH. The company is going under. But Sen. Christopher Dodd actually changed the wording in the stimulus package to allow said bonuses (at the request of the current administration). Of course, Dodd now claims that he didn't know about AIG's bonuses at the time... and, frankly, it is impossible to know what information was in his head while he was taking out the piece of legislation which would have made these bonuses impossible. But what he knew at the time is irrelevant. If you remove wording that would require companies to be penny-pinchers with the taxpayers' money, you should have an inkling of what the consequences might be. It doesn't take a mental giant to figure that one out.

So here's how I see it. We have some goobers in power who are bound and determined to be as irresponsible with our money as they would like. When they're found out in their supreme stupidity, they have so little character as to destroy the lives of particular citizens rather than accept the richly-deserved anger of the people. 

What a bunch of weiners. 

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