Dealing With The Devil

Posted by Larry Miller on March 20, 2009 under Why | Be the First to Comment

The government giveth and the government taketh away. That seems to be lesson we can take away from the recent events in Washington. The good congressmen and senators, eyes bloodshot with rage promised the American taxpayer that the outrage of AIG taking money from the government (read taxpayer), then giving millions of it out to their employees in the form of bonuses would not be allowed to continue.

We were told that these were retention bonuses that would keep these high performing employees on the job. These are the same high performing employees that produced the massive profits that led the company to come back to the taxpayers time after time – promising each time would be the last.

After nearly bursting a blood vessel and almost falling into an apoplectic seizure, Senator Dodd came back the next day and admitted that he had actually inserted a provision in the porkulus bill that specifically permitted these employees to receive the bonuses. So much for the claim of surprise! The man should get an Oscar for his manufactured rage as it’s difficult to be sincerely angry with someone for doing what you said was permissible. After more prodding the good Senator also remembered that that he had inserted the provision at the request of the Obama administration through the Treasury Secretary’s office.

So we have the public and much of our government going into a hissy fit over one more action of our new president. How did this come about? Are the people in the White House so inept or confused that one hand does not know what the other hand is doing? That would be the easy ,but not very comforting, answer. The answer could be more sinister. Could it be one more distraction to keep us from noticing the really damaging behavior of the Obama administration… kind of like the fuss about Rush Limbaugh.

Could it be that the millions of dollars flushed down the drain in AIG bonuses were just a smoke screen to hide the billions of dollars AIG funneled to foreign banks? I have to wonder why this does not make the lawmakers at least as angry. I would think that seeing all those taxpayer dollars flowing overseas doing nothing toward the proclaimed purpose of making credit available to US businesses would make loyal officials go through the roof. This money isn’t doing a whole lot to help people facing foreclosure on their homes either. All it has done is help a multi-national corporation get its books in looking a little better, and for all we know, making massive bonuses possible to foreigners in Dubai?

I’m having trouble deciding what message is actually coming out of Washington. Are the banks that valuable that we have to spare no expense to save them, yet the people running them so morally crippled with greed that they cannot be trusted to handle our money? The conspiracy theorist in me sees in this action an attempt to shore up the institution of banking while removing the bankers. To what effect? Possibly big government sympathizers whose loyalties lie with the Obama administration rather than with the shareholders and depositors. I don’t know… just a thought. But the way they have been demonized by the press and congress… even the President, I am concerned that these evil financial wizards are about to be marched off to an encampment next to Joe Arpaio’s desert prison.

More likely this is just a bunch of political types, not smart enough to come up with the more involved plan, looking for cover when a payback for huge political contributions to Sen. Dodd, the President and many others is exposed. It may be that seeing the light in the distance from the torch and pitchfork brigade of outraged citizens made them turn on the people who helped get them elected.

One almost has to feel sorry for the executives at AIG who thought their contributions to the Democrats bought them immunity from common sense business practices… particularly when the actions of Dodd and Geithner specifically paved the way for them to receive their rewards. Unfortunately for the execs, they found out you can’t make deals with the devil. Those giving to and voting for hope and change apparently did not get the change they hoped for.

Perhaps a lesson can be found here for many in the business community that looking to curry favor with those who don’t understand and value what you do and who are basically looking for sources of revenue to fund their grand social schemes, may make you the next village getting looted in the pursuit of their impossible, and I might add, immoral, dream.

This brings us back to looking at politics and government in a radical new way: looking for what is good for the entire country full of people rather than what I think will benefit me. Sure this means that you won’t get any special advantage or be supplied by the work of someone else… it also means it won’t blow up in your face and you won’t be publicly pilloried and threatened. You may not get quite the financial reward, but then you may well have a strengthened customer base… and that’s not all bad. As Rick Warren would say, “It’s not about you.”

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