keg of populist ire on tap

3/22/09

Frankly, I’m finding all this rage and death threats directed at the AIG honchos to be a little baffling. When I heard what the insurance giant was doing with taxpayer money, sure, I had my moment of seeing red, but I almost immediately sighed “oh well”. That’s because I adopted a way of thinking that I recommend to anyone out there who wishes to cling to the last of their stomach lining.

First off, all of you have to rent, buy or download The Corporation, a documentary made in 2004 about, well, the nature of American corporations. No matter what your ideological bent, I’d love to hear what you think – I know it has saved me years of rending my garments and cursing at the sky, because I finally GET IT.

Put simply, American corporations have almost all the same rights as an American citizen. This is thanks to two things: an 1886 Supreme Court ruling on railroads, and a warped take on our 14th Amendment. Thus we get the concept of “corporate personhood”.

Except that large corporations, if they were to be judged as humans, are by their very nature sociopaths. It’s a fascinating argument, one the documentary does an excellent job illuminating, but what it has done for me is invaluable: it has eradicated any sense of personal wrath I might feel about a giant company. In other words, there is nothing they can do that will ever surprise me again.

And thus it is so with AIG… do you feel anger when you hear what they did with the money? Pardon me for asking, but… why? Everyone knew full well it was going to be a carnie’s shell game. Same goes for all the banks paying outrageous bonuses, the golden commodes and the private jets. Do you hold sociopaths to the same standard of accountability?

In AIG’s case, you just gave $170 billion to a giant ape, and then you were surprised he threw his feces at your face. Sure, we could take the money away, but here’s the catch: that giant ape is riding a unicycle that is powering the nation’s economy. If he falls off the unicycle, then America’s economy basically shuts down, and the Dow goes into the 3000s.

So you know what you’re going to do? Let the giant ape keep the $170 billion, get hit with his feces, and play nice-nice until we get out of this mess. Sure, we can show outrage, and politicans can make grand, impotent gestures, but why bother? IT’S AN APE.

Whether it be a primate or a sociopath, the real question is this: how did we let one company become so crucially unexpendable that our economy teeters on its very existence? I don’t know, I write scripts for a living. But I sure as hell don’t let it drag me into despair anymore. I also don’t ask my mini Australian Shepherd to drive.

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0 thoughts on “keg of populist ire on tap

  1. Anne

    Screw AIG. I’ll just stare at that adorable puppy. How is she doing?
    (And the phrase “screw AIG” just made me laugh out loud because, well… it has something to do with my dating history in college.) ;-)
    I definitely want to watch “The Corporation,” even if it does nothing more than increase my already soaring cynicism about for-profit organizations.

    Reply
  2. LFMD

    LILY! Cutie pookie sweetie woofs!
    Ian – your post made me laugh, and Lily made me smile. Now I can start my day in a better frame of mind. . .

    Reply
  3. Ehren

    I was also confused by all the rage about this. Do we really expect the government to micromanage all of these companies? That seems like a ridiculous idea. A restriction here or there is one thing, but it seems to me like if you’re going to save the company, you give them money and let them do their thing.

    Reply
  4. wottop

    Every country needs a villian to blame for its problems. Companies that are getting bailouts are ours right now.
    Can’t blame the immigrants every day.

    Reply
  5. Neva

    What a cute puppy! My 8 year old saw the photo and quickly said “Can we have it!”. I told her this one was already taken.
    I must take this opportunity to bask in the glow of my top position in the pool! Just goes to show you that actual basketball knowledge is a detriment in picking teams as I would bet I watch less basketball than anyone else on the list. Perhaps this is the Blink theory at it’s best. You guys overthink it. Let me know if you’d like me to pick stocks for you too. I know nothing about that either!

    Reply
  6. emma

    Neva- get your bags packed. Lorelle says she’s taking you and me to Vegas based on our pool success so far.

    Reply
  7. Lindsay

    “Every country needs a villian to blame for its problems. Companies that are getting bailouts are ours right now.
    Can’t blame the immigrants every day.”
    Clearly you underestimate us as a country. Some of the bailout money went to foreign companies, companies which overseas offices, and companies who hire foreigners. We /can/ have it all: blame the bailed-out AND immigrants and foreigners!
    Add the stimulus package and all the bridges built by illegals using that money, and you have a quadfecta of xenophobic populism.
    Who says the Republican Party can’t reinvent itself for the 21st Century?

    Reply
  8. Ruthy

    I’ll bet there’s some expense or other in AIG’s books that dwarfs exec compensation, but since you can’t put a face on it, it goes under the radar with the public. I also bet that suits for breach of contract would dwarf the bonus amounts.
    My motto: a border collie a day keeps the black clouds away, although any herding or non-herding breed will do, …..especiawwy teeny-weeny cutie-pies! Awwww.

    Reply

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