Wednesday, March 18, 2009

AIG - The Symbol of Our Differences

Rush Limbaugh thinks we've got to let those millions of dollars in bonuses go to AIG executives. Here's the excerpt listed in the Daily Kos:

The peasants with their pitchforks surrounding the corporate headquarters of AIG.

And the president's own teleprompter is telling him to say that these executive are greedy and selfish and this is inciting people to behavior that could lead to violence if their threats are acted out.

President Obama's teleprompter tells him to say that the tired ways of the past didn't work, that we need a new way. Here we go; we've got the new way. We've got peasants with their pitchforks phoning in death threats at AIG. We have members of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives sounding like communist dictators.

This $500,000 limit on executive pay -- let me tell you why it won't work. New York City will die. ...Without the super wealthy in New York, it's over.

LIMBAUGH: Why in the world -- or how do you get to the point where you're going to bail out the company, but you don't want the employees to get paid?

LIMBAUGH: This is not just executives, but executives are employees, too. And in --

CALLER: I understand that.

LIMBAUGH: -- many of these firms, Nathan, their salaries are pretty small. They work on bonuses, via contract based on merit.

Merit, Rush? These are the guys that sent AIG into the red. What merit?

I have relatives who would call me a screaming liberal. They, I guess, are what you would call knee jerk conservatives. Neither label is accurate. We're thoughtful people who are trying to sift through what we're told and come up with what we believe is the most correct philosophy to guide this floundering ship to safety.

Conservatives and Republicans are big believers in free enterprise. They believe that if you leave business to its own devices, a kind of Darwinism will prevail. The strongest will survive.

They would argue that Liberals want a nanny state that pats our flabby bottoms from cradle to grave. Maybe some do. That wouldn't be me.

After a great deal of thought, here's my basic problem: free enterprise has a basic faith in human nature. Good business practices, good people, hard work will thrive. The weak shall fail. But history has proven that this isn't true. Big, greedy, manipulative and dishonest business thrives and flourishes - until it collapses in on itself because it is, at its core, hollow or rotten. And then the individual taxpayers in the form of the federal government are supposed to prop it up.

No? Enron. AIG. The American auto industry. Go down the list of companies whose basic operating motto was drawn from Gordon Gekko and look at who's taking the bailout money.

Government has to regulate business, and regulate it with a firm hand. Because human nature is, essentially, greedy. We're not talking the poor, dying Mom and Pop industries. We're talking about the mega-companies. Bank of America buys Merrill Lynch, then suddenly isn't looking too healthy itself. IBM wants to buy Sun Systems while it lays off thousands. Right now it can afford to buy and maybe it's a good business decision. Maybe. IBM's not in the humanitarian business, but there is something basically wrong with discarding thousands of workers, then expanding. And it's not just business.

Look at our legislators. Look at the money they make. Look at the deals they make to get more. And look at the deals they make to stay in power. We were supposed to have citizens in government, who served a term and then went back to their own lives. Politics has become a career. Look at the ancients in the US Senate! Look at the hungry young up and comers who will do and say anything to take their places! Don't even think of running for President if you haven't done your time in the legislature - government is now a form of business.

And that creates a contradiction, as I do believe government has to flex its muscle and stand down businesses.

So maybe the answer is to stop pretending our government is a democracy. Stop pretending that anyone can get elected to office. Acknowledge that the US government is a business, just like each state's government is a business. Regulate them, too. Run them efficiently, make them conform to the same regulations they impose on private industry...and make their standards even tougher.
Mandate retirement. Mandate ethics and police them.

As for the fear that socialized medicine, caring for the homeless, creating equity in taxation creates some sort of soft, snivelling welfare state, just stop it. How does it build strength of character to work a lifetime, then find you can't afford healthcare? How does it encourage creativity to work ever longer hours for pay that doesn't keep up with the basic cost of living?

When is the ridiculous myth that wealth trickles down going to finally be seen for the elitist garbage that it is? If you work hard, have a brilliant idea that pays off and make a fortune, good for you. Enjoy the fruits of your labor. But pay the same tax rate as the kid who can't afford to finish college and is struggling at a minimum wage job.

And if you're a greedy corporate executive who offers nothing special but a Blackberry full of influential connections and a knack for doctoring the balance sheet, drop dead. I won't be expecting to benefit from your purchase of six vacation homes, a private jet and every ostentatious toy you can find to prove to yourself that you're successful. Just pay your taxes and pray the government never actually gets the power it ought to have.

Huh. I guess I'm angry.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am angry too! A good read.