This is nuts. I mean, really folks ... we have gone bat-guano insane over this AIG bonus brouhaha. You're being manipulated. The wealth-envy is being stoked. What we have here is a phony outrage wholly generated by the political class to take the minds of the dumb masses (if you're reading aloud, do so slowly) off of the spectacularly irresponsible bailout, stimulus and budget bills that have been passed in recent months. We have an anti-capitalist Democrat party working with a president who thinks that America's greatness is based in government, together with no small number of Republican sycophants, spending this country into oblivion ... and looking for ways to distract your attention in the process.
NO ... I'm not saying that the AIG employees who got these bonuses necessarily earned them. I'm still waiting to meet the man who actually earned every dollar and benefit he has received from his employer. We call him Sully. The Financial Services Division of AIG is a basket case. The fact is, though, AIG had a contractual obligation to pay those bonuses, and failure to do so would have been actionable. A good trial attorney would manage to get double the amount due plus fees. All of the wealth envy and moaning about the evil, disgusting, putrid, worthless rich won't make those contracts void. The decision to pay those bonuses pursuant to the legally enforceable contracts was the right one.
More disgusting than the bonuses, however, is the political reaction to them. If ever there was a time for pitchforks and torches -- this should have been it. Not because of the AIG bonuses ... but because of what transpired in the Congress last week. For the first time that I can remember the Imperial Congress of the United States has passed a law establishing a confiscatory tax to be levied on certain individuals -- not for the purpose of raising revenue -- but strictly for the purpose of punishment. The political class has determined, without the benefit of due process or a trial, that the actions of the AIG employees in accepting these bonuses was a crime, and that crime shall be punished by seizure of the money. Legislation to single out and punish someone without due process is constitutionally forbidden. But who cares? What does the Constitution mean any more anyway?
Saturday night I had to sit meekly, as is my custom, while three fellow CNN panelists blathered on about how these bonuses were paid entirely with bailout funds. Say what? By what magic accounting trick do these rocket surgeons determine that the entire bonuses paid to these AIG so-called "executives" were paid from the very bailout funds that amounted to only nine-hundredths of one percent of the dollar amount of the bonuses paid? Oh, wait! I can answer that myself: It's the same accounting process that causes Chuckie Schumer to declare that "we shouldn't quibble over $200 million dollars" of taxpayer's money spent when the discussion is congressional earmarks, but who then starts spinning around on his eyebrows when a private business fulfills a legal obligation to pay $175 million due pursuant to an enforceable contract.
Thanks to generations of government education, inexorably leading to a populace with only rudimentary thinking skills, most Americans don't readily see the danger in government hosting a popularity contest in which the masses decide who does and who does not deserve to keep what they have earned. Maybe a few news bulletins from the not-so-far future might yank your chain a bit:
"Democrat Congressman Barney (Sylvester) Frank announced today the introduction of legislation calling for a 90% tax on all income in excess of $500,000 paid to any person who foments political dissention on the public's airwaves."
Think about this. If these hacks can use this "public's airwaves" idiocy in order to control what someone says on a radio show, who's to say they couldn't use the same fiction to control income? They control what the radio station can make by limiting commercial minutes and demanding fealty to the "public's interests," so why not extend that control to all on-air personnel? Thank goodness this one wouldn't apply to me. I neither foment dissention nor do I meet the salary cap.
"Speaker Nancy Pelosi dispatched a delegation of flying monkeys this afternoon to deliver a message to the media that she was calling for legislation to establish a 90% tax on all book royalties payable to tall blond women weighing less than 110 pounds."
OK .. got ya to smile. You can come up with your own "punish them with taxes" ideas and put them in the comments section.
The point here is that we have set the precedent whereby is now OK to single out private individuals, demonize them for political advantage, and then march them to the IRS guillotine for a financial beheading. Madam LeFarge for Treasury Secretary. At least she's not a tax cheat.