Enough Already: Money For Nothing Mar24

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Enough Already: Money For Nothing


a blogumn by Jordan Weeks

“Interesting way to undermine a society, I think, is to take some of their money away.”

–Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

So AIG (American International Group, Inc., NYSE) is again all over every news outlet because their executives decided to pay out contractual bonuses totaling something like $165 million to some of their traders. The “problem” is that that $165 million is coming from the federal bail-out money the company received, which I believe is somewhere around the $170 billion range. Even since I started writing this last Thursday, there have been “Breaking-News” updates on CNN regarding the AIG hearings in Washington. It’s too much.

aigbailoutcomicI don’t know SHIT about the finer-points of ANY of this AIG (American International Group, Inc.) bail-out debacle. I’m not an economist by any stretch of the imagination. But this kind of government involvement in private industry, in the private-sector’s commerce, is highly alarming, completely un-Constitutional and the antithesis of every principle upon which this country’s government was founded.

AIG got this total bail-out of, what, $170 billion? And people – including Obama, allegedly – are upset that these AIG jerks are using some $165 million of that bail-out money to pay previously promised (contracted) bonuses to the company’s higher-ups. And right they are to be upset. But I’d like to address a few things here before everybody’s noses get all out-of-joint about where the already-given $170 billion is going.

First: $165 million isn’t much more than a drop in AIG’s $170 billion bail-out bucket.

Second: after the government gives a private company money (which they should NOT be doing in a laissez-faire capitalist economy such as ours), they really can’t tell the private company what to DO with the money; they have GIVEN it to that company, the managers of whom could flush it right down the fucking toilet, if they so desired, since it’s now their money. (Which, by the way, is pretty much what they ARE doing.)

Third: You know what would’ve made it really difficult (some might say almost impossible) for AIG’s money-bunglers to get $165 million in bonus pay-outs? If AIG had gotten NO federal bail-out money AT ALL. Not $170 billion; not $20 billion. NOTHING.

I don’t understand Obama (or whomever’s controlling these huge federal-money decisions) approving this bail-out in the first place, but then disapproving of how the dispensed funds are being spent. It’s bad enough that the Obama camp doesn’t understand (or agree) that these businesses shouldn’t be getting ANY kind of federal money – because they’re PRIVATE BUSINESSES! – but then they want to have a say in where that money goes after they’ve given it away to a private-sector company? This doesn’t even make SENSE. It’s bordering on being intellectually unprocessable. The bottom-line (and what MAKES this so confounding) is that in a capitalist society, the federal government does not give money to private industry. It just DOESN’T. So the bail-outs should never have happened. The fact that they did is what makes the rest of this so difficult to piece together.

It’s my understanding that if a company, even a gigantic company – whether it’s an insurance company, a bank, a car manufacturer, or a friggin’ coffee-shop franchise – gets to a point where folding, declaring bankruptcy, is its only option as a result of either unscrupulous, risky, or outright illegal financial mishandling, or as a result of honest-to-goodness “bad business” (no customers, etc.), then that’s that. If a business fails, it fails. And in such a case, it is my laymen’s understanding that someone else would just start ANOTHER business to fill the void left by the folded business. One giant bank goes out of business – let’s say, because they’ve given absurd loan amounts to people or businesses that would never in a million years be able to pay them back – and another one, a brand-new one, OPENS. That’s the cycle of business in a capitalist society.

It seems that that’s exactly what would have happened if there WERE no federal bail-outs of these companies, if they were just left to flounder, fold, and close. No federal bail-out of $170 billion given to AIG last month; no $700 billion (for Chrissake!) overall given to companies last fall. But apparently someone – or a group of people – doesn’t want that natural economic course to come to fruition. In giving these unconscionably huge amounts of money to companies that should by all rights fail and close, thus leaving room for new companies to begin and grow, the federal government is preventing this from happening – preventing the birth and growth of new businesses, preventing the natural course of capitalism. WHY they are doing this completely eludes me. I have absolutely no idea, no clue, nothing approaching a clue. Why would a government completely undermine, completely subvert the economic system upon which it is based, upon which its SUCCESS is based?

Again, I haven’t a clue. Not a crap-smacking clue. But I don’t like it one fucking bit.

Brace yourselves…?

Good luck, everybody.


Comic Credit: Penny Blankenship