Populist Sword Rattling Over AIG

18 03 2009
Bill Barber
My Populist Credo
Authored by:  William Robert Barber

Populism from a political perspective is an ideology founded on the perceived interest of ordinary folks versus those of the privileged elite. Populism has an appeal that naturally gravitates to those who believe or are lead to believe that they have less. It is to those of the material lesser that the perpetrator of the populist ideology considers as the audience of interest. The populist eyes the possibility of taking from those who have more by enlisting conscripts from those who consider their material worth less than the more.   

The appeal of populism though at times well-liked has its ugly head. The leaders of the French Revolution who gained power by the utilization of the guillotine were populists. Napoleon popularized the revolution’s most populist of declarations, liberty, fraternity, and equality as his prompt to motivate his army to kill hundreds of thousands. Lenin was a populist. Hugo down in Venezuela is ostensibly a populist. What dictator of historical note did not boast his interest in serving the common people of the land? Populism has some nasty bedfellows.

In today’s news, populist are in an uproar over the dispensation afforded to the privileged few of AIG who earned, deserved or not, a bonus in addition to their salary via the terms and conditions of a definitive, totally transparent, legal employment agreement. There has been much ranting and raving from politicians of both parties regarding their disagreement over the payment of these bonuses. One senator suggested that congress tax the bonuses one hundred percent. Of course, this particular senator is a graduate of Harvard Law and surely knows that such a tax law is ex post facto and totally illegal. But what the hell, he is a politician before being sensible so I guess he can say anything.

Now the mongers of populist and populism — unleashed — are rattling their swords over what they’re going to do to those no-good rotten elitists who were awarded a bonus per a transparent legal agreement enjoined with the government’s representatives who, in perfect form and function, explicitly represented the interest of the American people in this transaction.

Why so much of an uproar? By Cracker Jack, look at the pork expended in the last stimulus bill. Didn’t Obama say that the pork’s spending and spending is stimulating the economy? If so, is not paying these legal obligations stimulating the economy by putting money in people’s hand?

Of course the bonuses are not the issue at all; the issue is that the very same Democratic senators, the president, the secretary of treasury, and only God knows how many staff attorneys drafted and agreed upon paying the bonuses. Was not all of this explicit language in the AIG funding agreement?  They (the government’s representatives) all knew it was in the agreement…Or didn’t they know that the incentive bonuses were in the terms and conditions before they affirmed? Now which is it — government overseer of the public interest?

The government’s oversight over the billions upon billions of taxpayers’ money is the material measure of everyone’s concern. This is only one of many of this administration’s missteps as it blunders its way through further damaging this economy.

 Government should get out of the way of the marketplace, let the chips fall where they may. Nothing is worse than the unintended consequences of governmental meddling. That is my populist credo.

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