Big Brother, Can Ya Spare A Bonus?
In the realm of class warfare, it doesn't get any better than this. There's enough outrage for several news cycles.
For the record, I'd like to state that I find AIG's corporate actions to be some of the most reprehensible I've ever seen. I'm sure AIG will be to this decade what Enron was to the last one. I don't understand in the least sense the details behind equity trading and mortgage derivatives. Perhaps my lack of knowledge will disqualify me from making a seven figure annual salary. I can live with that.
What sticks in my craw, so to speak, is the audacity of the political chattering class to take it upon themselves to judge who is – and more importantly who is not – worthy of the elusive compensation known as a "bonus". Most of these politicians have found themselves worthy – year after year – of unwarranted pay raises and a host of fringe benefits the rest of us everyday Americans will never receive.
At least the $165 million was "earmarked" for multiple people. AIG executives are being pilloried for "running the company into the ground". Has there been any such outrage expressed at the likes of Mr. Raines, James Johnson, or Jamie Gorelick? Has Andy Cuomo subpoenaed the financials of the aforementioned individuals? Methinks not.
In a hypothetical scenario, think about this. If Freddie and Fannie hadn't imploded under the weight of sub-prime mortgages and the cooked books courtesy of Raines and Gorelick, would AIG have fallen off the cliff? I'm no economist, but it seems to me that without the first domino being shoved, the rest stand up pretty well.
Be that as it may, here's some other points to ponder: Do you really want people like Barack Obama and his inept band of politically motivated dim bulbs deciding – in their all to finite wisdom – who is worthy of a "bonus"? Should the companies be required to have their corporate rosters (from the CEO to the janitor) pass muster before the (less than) honorable Barney Frank?
If nothing happens in Vegas, do they still need an $8 billion train?
In yet another example of the Law of Consequences (unintended or otherwise), the pronouncements of the President of the United States have wrought havoc upon the very people who looked to said President as a beacon of hope and change. Well, they're getting change – just not the change they hoped for.
You can't take a trip to Las Vegas or down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers' dime.
To be fair and somewhat balanced, some of these events may have been on the chopping block anyway simply because of the economy. Having said that, I submit that a majority of these events were simply moved to other – more acceptable – venues which would not draw the ire of the chattering class. Bear in mind, dear reader, that moving these events to other cities most likely increased the cost to the companies far and above the cost of doing business in Vegas – gambling losses notwithstanding.
So, here we find two major consequences of Obama's blackballing of Las Vegas. First off he's increased the cost of doing business to the very companies he just bailed out. Add that to the fact that blackballing the travel and tourism business from which Vegas draws its very life's blood will end up cratering an already depressed local economy and you pretty much have a perfect storm of economic disaster.
Here endeth the lesson.
Via Jim Geraghty at NRO, I came across an article which contains some behind the scenes information on Obama's disastrous visit with Gordon Brown. Geraghty had the following reaction to the article:
speaking out of school. But these are probably some of the most terrifying words to come from an unidentified source in some time.'Obama is overwhelmed.'Perhaps it's just some Obama ally
With due respect to Jim, I'm going to have to disagree with him – albeit just slightly. Personally I found this paragraph to be just as, if not more terrifying than the one he cited:
Allies of Mr. Obama say his weary appearance in the Oval Office with Mr. Brown illustrates the strain he is now under, and the president's surprise at the sheer volume of business that crosses his desk.
Think about this for just a minute. The President of the United States is "surprised" at the amount of work required by the job he spent over two years pursuing? The job of POTUS has to be one of, if not the most stressful job on the planet. The job follows the Oval Occupant wherever he (or she) might go. There are no vacations, respites, or any other chances to disconnect from the sheer volume of business that crosses the Resolute Desk.
The presidency has an aging effect on those who hold it. Take a look at before and after pictures of Bush (41), Clinton, and Bush (43) and the graying effect is rather obvious. Having said that, I'm not aware of any president complaining about the workload before the new carpet smell had worn out.
Most presidents, prior to sitting in the Big Chair, held some sort of executive office where they were never really "off-duty". The same cannot be said for Barack Obama. Prior to his ascension to the Oval Office, he served not-quite a full term in the US Senate. Take into account his part-time gigs as a state senator, college professor, and "community organizer" and you can pretty much sum up his professional resume in one word:
At least when compared with the Presidency. When it's all said and done, most people can't even name their US senator and even fewer give much thought to their state senator. If you can name your local community organizer, have a Vanilla Diet Pepsi on me.
Slow Joe Biden best contribution to the 2008 Race for the Oval was his statement that the presidency doesn't lend itself to "on the job training". The conventional wisdom about Team Obama was they would bring renewed "competence" to the art and science of governing.