Friday, March 20, 2009

AIG of Unreason

I join the outrage, umbrage and outbrageum regarding the AIG bonuses. I had no idea that under-qualified people were making a killing in the world of high finance. I never knew that there was monetary unfairness in the American system. I also wasn’t aware that the bailout was going to reward bad players for the greater good of the economy.

Now I will shed the outgrabe, mome wrath and borogronaïveté to make a serious point. Yes, these bonuses are unwarranted, though they always were, and yes, it’s nice to see someone besides people on welfare (well, poor man’s welfare that is.) being sh__ on for taking what’s been allotted them. But if you unwittingly* screwed up a big deal thing at your job, and your bosses said “What a horrible thing. We want to give you four million dollars.” Would you point out the illogic of their plan, or would you run to the bank to deposit your check? It’s a trick question: you’d probably have direct deposit.

I’m fine with using whatever truly legal means there are to get the money back, but if this loophole in bonus restrictions was put in to stop lawsuits, you can kiss that dream goodbye. If you got a four million bonus and then it the government took it away, but your lawyer said you could get the four mil back if you sued, would you go on about the perils of our increasingly litigious society? Also, forget about personal shame. You could pay a dishwasher four million dollars and he’d still be bitching about how he’s underpaid, though he might stop eating leftover food off the plates.

So what is the answer? This 90% tax thing probably isn’t the end of this, so why not be more the willow that bends, instead of the cracking oak? I say we pay the million dollar bonuses. In food stamps.

There’s an excellent Frederick Pohl story “The Midas Plague” in which so much is being produced that to sustain the economy the poor are forced to consume all the time, while the rich can work at the jobs they like. I think about that all the time these days. This would be near the fate of these super-food-stamped AIG executives. They’d be cursed to roam from store to store, purchasing more food than they could ever eat, just to make use of their millions. They’d have to throw block party after block party, just to get rid of all their food. They’d wander like Cain spreading food in their wake. It would be both undeserved reward and punishment in one, and stimulative to boot. Eventually they’d collapse from consumption, fattened with free food, too exhausted to buy more.

Then we’d close in on them and devour them. Our outrage would finally be sated.

--Dan Kilian

*Was it unwitting? Some say no, but it seems like this whole complicated thing just “got away” from the money guys. Now who’s borogronaïve? By the way I’m trying to do something with Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” there. Doesn’t quite work, does it? I have no editor!
------------------------------------------ Trillions in Debt
------------------------------------------ Fixing The Banks

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