My experience has been that if someone confers me money they are doing one of two things, paying for something that I can provide or supporting me. The latter of the two affords my patron a certain measure of control over my life. I give you something; you owe me gratitude, obedience or loyalty.
Regardless of your age if you live in my home without contributing, you follow my rules, adhere to my restrictions or you are out the door. The recompense is the relinquishing of personal freedom and the handing over of autonomy to whoever is the provider. This is an agreed upon contract, which involves a measure of regulatory adherence by those on the receiving end.
This was exactly the situation AIG faced when it came to the $165 million in bonuses, being paid to executives after receiving $173 billion in taxpayer funds, to prevent the company from going under. Here a private business availed itself to governmental largess and in doing so are now subject to limitations by those same governmental agencies. AIG has lost freedoms as politicians in Washington DC express a corporate, “You’ll do thus and such!”
From my perspective this isn’t about whether AIG did something immoral with money that wasn’t theirs, it’s about the lesson the American public should be gleaning from what they are observing right before their eyes, which is when you take something from the government…you lose freedom.
What a perfect opportunity this bailout has evolved into to place corporate America over Washington DC’s knee and give them a good spanking. Those evil big wigs on Wall Street went with hat-in-hand to the government for help and the Pelosi Benevolent Brigade rushed to the rescue with 173 billion in bailout funds. Now AIG is being mortified through a public chastisement for political expediency, as well as being burdened with regulations as to what they can and cannot do with money that Washington is well aware was designated for bonuses prior to the bailout.
My gripe with AIG isn’t the granting of retention bonuses, the amount of which is a minuscule percentage of the billions they received. My problem is that they took the bailout in the first place. They might as well have just willingly put their private sector foot in a bear trap. In this case, the hand that fed them bit off a few of their fingers and is looking for an excuse to gnaw off their arm.
The granting of the funds to bailout the company has now become the leverage to demonize, humiliate, cause public anger against and to control AIG i.e., big business/Wall Street. Senator Dodd, of Fannie and Freddie fame, who put the bonus protections into the stimulus package bill in the first place, is now trying to undo them. Dodd , along with Barack Obama, being one of the largest recipients of AIG campaign funds, added what was called the executive compensation restriction to the bill. That restriction is now law, making an exception for all bonuses that were contractually agreed upon before February 11th of this year. Dodd, Obama and all disingenuous politicians knew full well that the bonuses were written into the bailout. Could it be that they were in such a rush to push it through that they were unaware of what they were approving?
Obama must have learned those thespian skills very well from that Brad Pitt visit to Capitol Hill. He, along with the government representatives who are acting stunned and appalled by the additional retention benefits being granted, knew about them all along. This whole sham is just another opportunity for government to flex their muscle and exercise control over the private sector all as a precursor to what lies ahead when it comes to ultimately controlling individual American citizen’s lives.
Let’s review. The government bails out and now owns 80% of AIG. They install a government appointed chairperson, Edward M. Liddy who obviously knew about the previously contracted retention bonuses. The day comes for the dispersion of the monies and now the government representatives in the White House and Congress pretend to be surprised. The hope–use the media as a means to stir up the American public against big business in order to exercise additional control over something that they initially established.
Senator Charles Schumer, Democratic New York has expressed that he feels the bonuses are an “…offense to millions of hard working Americans whose tax dollars are the only reason AIG continues to exist.” Right after polishing off a big pan of bacon and eggs, Schumer has expressed that he and his lily-white, ethically pure colleagues plan on doing everything in their power to stop those bonuses from being paid and to collect the money that has already been distributed. Sounds like a reenactment of Tombstone. A law was put in place, which compensated for the bonuses but now the government has decided to use the laws they themselves drafted to gain power against AIG to their benefit politically. Selah (Translation: Think on that awhile)!
The message is loud and clear if we choose to hear it. Baby-boomers put down your Suduko puzzles and focus! Fast forward about ten-years, we’ve demanded and finally received Universal Health Care. American’s are beholding to the government for health services. There are restrictions on paying for or purchasing private health care. One day, the politicians in power decide that too many older American’s are demanding health care services and are costing the United States and its tax payers too much money.
A liberal Schumer-type Senator, who along with Congress has a much superior health plan than the common American citizen, comes to the podium highly indignant and firmly declares that, “Because many older Americans refused to “voluntarily” remove their names from the list for advanced cancer care for the good of the nation and our younger population, the Congress is in the process of passing legislation that would, by law, deny this treatment to anyone over seventy years of age.” Reiterating to the guilty, “You wouldn’t voluntarily take yourself off the list…so we did it for you,” all on behalf of the “common good!”
On February 11th when they debased themselves and accepted the bailout, I wonder if AIG thought they’d be dragged to the gallows by the two politicians they monetarily supported in the election, Barack Obama and Chris Dodd. I wonder if when the compensation restriction was written into the stimulus bill, as a contractual agreement, AIG executives thought the very people who put it there would use it as a weapon against them. I wonder if when they stupidly placed their privatized foot into the bear trap they realized that the proprietors of the snare were also filling the hypodermic with plans to administer a lethal injection down the line.
If AIG failed to notice, maybe the American people should pay attention and learn from their mistake that the true cost, when taking handouts from the government, is a loss of freedom. In this case Schumer is demanding 100% tax on the AIG bonuses. Buyer beware, in the future there very well may be 100% price tag on our lives if we’re obtuse enough to believe that anything is free, especially if it comes from Washington.
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