In recent weeks, there's been considerable public outcry regarding the 165 million dollars in bonuses given to AIG executives. People have taken to protesting outside of executives' homes. A Congressional official called for these bonus-earning executives to commit ritual suicide, like the Japanese. Pundits have called for the lopped off heads (both big and
little) of these individuals.
I understand the rage of the public. In an age where tremendous companies get billion dollar bailouts, yet continue to pump millions into supporting sports teams while the common man remains largely neglected, it's no surprise that people are pissed.
However, all this rage and looking to place blame only takes attention away from the truth of this situation: We need a solution, and we need one fast. Because if things continue as they are, we're all fucked.
Look. I feel that these AIG executives don't deserve an extra cent on top of what they've earned. But what does it matter what you or I think? They're contractually obligated to receive bonuses. There is little the Fed can legally do to get that money back. Sure, they can tax the bonuses. And public outcry may get executives to give their bonuses back. But what does that do in the long run?
And what of the executives at other bailed out corporations and their bonuses and plush executive suites? Why no outcry over Shitty Bank? Why the AIG focus?
Blame the media and their outcry du jour policy. Let's publicize something. Garner some rage. And never let it go until the public finally says, "Enough. This bores us. What's next?"
We all know that the bailout process was flawed. Treasury Secretary Paulson made some major errors. His ideas favored Wall Street. But did he break the law? If not, guess what: Move on.
Do we blame Barney Frank for this mess? How about Phil Gramm? If we really want to get to the crux of the issue, why don't we dig up the corpse of Ronald Reagan and torch it? After all, it was his policy of deregulation that led to "too big to fail" corporations like AIG and Citi. Or do we forget that deregulation actually helped grow
the economy for awhile?
The problem here is, as Westerners and Americans in particular, we're always looking for someone else to blame. It's, "He did it." Not, "I did it." Here, we ought take a page from Eastern philosophies and, yes, the Japanese. For when one over there truly fucks up, he or she owns up to that dishonor.
Now, I'm not saying executives should kill themselves. Because if that were what I was saying, I'd recommend that every person who ever contributed to the detriment or growth of our economy in even the slightest way ought to kill themselves.
Got into a mortgage you couldn't afford? Kill yourself.
Paid or continue to pay a mortgage? Kill yourself. You encouraged banks to lend money to individuals who couldn't afford it.
Bought an Escalade? Kill yourself. You told GM to continue building large, expensive, inefficient shitpiles.
Bought a used Corolla? Kill yourself. You must buy new to grow the economy.
Bought a bunch of shit you don't need on credit? Kill yourself. Why buy a bunch of shit you merely want?
Then again, maybe you're thinking you're blameless. You don't buy anything. You live off the grid. Grow your own food. Make your own clothes from tree bark. Produce energy from human feces.
Guess what: Kill yourself for not pumping any money into the economy.
What I'm trying to get at is this: Placing blame may feel good, but it gets us nowhere. Though levels of blame may differ, we're all guilty here. Whether we like it or not, we're all invested in the economic engine that runs this country. We may run with the torch-wielding mob, screaming for the blood of the aristocracy. But remember what happened after the French Revolution: The rich got their heads chopped off. The French, and the world, got Napoleon.
In other words: They got fucked. And if we're not far behind if we keep taking our eye off the ball.