The AIG Bonus Mess: Let's Pick it Apart
I don’t pretend to be an expert on some of these things, but everyone seems to be all up in arms mad at AIG. Might I suggest that it’s not AIG, but our federal government, that deserves to have scorn heaped upon it for its actions? Here’s an article on Comrade Obama’s remarks, with comments from me interspersed:
WASHINGTON – Joining a wave of public anger, President Barack Obama blistered insurance giant AIG for “recklessness and greed” Monday and pledged to try to block it from handing its executives $165 million in bonuses after taking billions in federal bailout money. “How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?” Obama asked. “This isn’t just a matter of dollars and cents. It’s about our fundamental values.”
“How do they justify this outrage”, Obama asks. First, it’s not an outrage. Second, the answer is very simple: it’s called a contract. Look it up, liberal friends; it’s when two entities agree to act in a certain way, and it has the binding force of law. We may not like it; we may have our opinions about it. Those things are irrelevant; two parties, in this case AIG and certain of its employees, entered into contractual obligations to each other. What is outrageous is, first, that the federal government would intervene with taxpayer dollars in the first place, would second not have the common sense that God gave a bowl of rice, these contractual obligations coming to light only now, and third, would act all high and mighty, as though breaking one’s word was the moral thing to do.
“Our fundamental values”…oh, that’s just rich, isn’t it? My head is hurting. Never before in American history has government so readily entangled itself in the private affairs of businesses (some historian can correct me if I’m wrong on that); it’s not a “fundamental American value” to do so, nor is it a “fundamental American value” to break contracts. At least not in the America I know, love, and want to live in.
The bonuses could contribute to a backlash against Washington that would make it tougher for Obama to ask Congress for more bailout help — and jeopardize other parts of the recovery agenda that is dominating the start of his presidency. Thus, the president and his top aides were working hard to distance themselves from the insurer’s conduct, to contain possible political damage and to try to bolster public confidence in his administration’s handling of the broader economic rescue effort.
“A backlash…that would make it tougher for Obama to ask Congress for more bailout help”? We should be so lucky! Where can I further fuel the backlash? What can I do to keep us from throwing more bad money after good?
“This is a corporation that finds itself in financial distress due to recklessness and greed,” Obama declared.
OK…so remind me again…why is it we’re bailing AIG out? I’m a little stumped on that one…
And finally, there’s this zinger, that I cannot think up any better response to than derisive laughter:
He said he had directed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to “pursue every legal avenue to block these bonuses and make the American taxpayer whole.”
No, thought of one: want to “make the American taxpayer whole”? Eliminate the IRS and the income tax, in favor of a consumption tax. Have the guts to actually veto pork-laden entitlement legislation instead of do everything you can to pass it (remember last week?). Better yet, just read the Constitution and do what it actually says.
That would solve a lot of our problems.