Sunday, March 22, 2009

What's an AIG?

No, no. Don't get me wrong. I know who AIG is today. A year from now? Will my Humble memory be able to drag this one back out to the light of day? Ask yourself: who was Enron? Haliburton? Sandy Burger? Gary Condit? John McCain? Teresa Heinz?

I Humbly theorize that it is the nature of Americans (we TV watching tuberous mass) to forget (if not forgive) even the greatest of horrors which do not personally affect us. A year from now, someone will say something about "a bigger bonus than an AIG executive", and you will give him a blank look like he was referring to something from the Taft administration. None of which has anything to do with the point of this post.

I resisted long and hard commenting about AIG and other "Bailed-out" (I use a capital "B" because we loaned them Billions) corporations. The Bailouts were intended primarily to keep large employers from going under, slow the decline of our economy, and keep the wheels of industry greased, as they must be, with money. This has all mostly been a failure, given today's 8% unemployment rate. The point of this post is to state my Humble opinion of the proposed 90% taxation of executive (or perhaps all) bonuses given by Bailed-out Businesses. Frankly, it stinks.

It shouldn't be necessary to even explain why this is so horrendous. I trust my Humble readership to already be able to understand why without a simple explanation. Some of you dear readers, however, may have lives that require time and effort, making mental exercise a luxury, not to be wasted frivolously. That's okay! Read on, and I'll do it for you.

This is a punishment tax. Whenever lawmakers say they are "outraged and appalled" right before announcing a new tax, that tax is intended to "correct" the "outrageous and appalling" behavior just mentioned. The discussion is not intended to get you thinking about what anyone should be doing, or why any such behavior should be considered good or bad by politicians. There is no rational discussion! What you get is an impassioned attack on an easy target! Evil coporations are taking YOUR tax money, and giving it to fat-cat executives! Hmm. That does sound evil! I can't afford a new car, even though I pay taxes, but a Bail-out CEO can pay cash for a new house! I have to budget new shoes for my bambinos but the Man can buy whole shoe stores. Why not tax those bonuses?! That's just taking our money back!

See how easy it is to get caught up in the emotion of it all? Forget the logic, reason, intelligence, just focus on your own needs. Folks, this is called pandering. It's emotional appeal, striking a chord within your viscera, not intended to fire up any neurons. YOU are smarter. YOU can see through the bull--uh--smoke. You KNOW that targeting a single group for punitive taxation is a slippery slope, giving Congress the non-Constitutional power to implement controls over private citizens and industry. Congress has a Constitutional obligation to protect commerce, but they are talking about punishing bad corporations with massive taxes on those evillest of things...bonuses.

What's next? A 50% tax on tips, because some Senator got bad service at Denny's?? Maybe a 72.5% tax on used car sales because Representative Chick N. Choker of Wisconsin bought a lemon? Why not? It has become fair play! Make an argument about how Industry X has violated the "public trust", and how this will simply level the playing field and make things right. How? Don't you worry your little voting head over the details.

Okay, almost the end of this post. Pop quiz: Who is AIG again?

THINK, people.

1 comment:

VinceInAZ said...

Civics class was a long time ago. I've been reminded that the proper term for what I call a "punishment tax" is "bill of attainder". It's essentially the same thing, except not limited to taxation. A bill of attainder can tax or seize property, or punish select people or groups without bothering with due process. So a 90% tax is flat-out unconstitutional, per Article I Section 9 of the Constitution. Considering every elected official has to take an oath to "protect and defend the Constitution", you'd think they would read it.

I should read it too, sometime, but I haven't been under oath since I left the Air Force in the 80's.