A Countybear Rant: Bureaucratic Cancer.
A (TOTALLY NONPARTISAN) Countybear Rant... (really, I mean it)...
Time for another growl from the den. Nothing wakes me up from my hibernation like idiocy.
AIG (American International Group), the U.S.'s largest insurance conglomerate, was the first to the corporate welfare window when it slid open. Actually, AIG in a large part opened that window, and (as was little known by the public), stuck a prop in it. Your tax dollars at work; some $152 Billion (yes, with a "B"), dollars have been and are being shoveled into AIG, (initially an $85 billion line of credit, then a second deal was struck to replace the first, which literally purchases the failing company by transferring an 79% stock equity to the ownership of the federal government, (notice I didn't say the people, but the 'government').
Here's a company that posted a near $25 billion loss in one quarter, and who's impending failure spurred an avalanche of nationalization, with Uncle Sam rushing to the rescue. Think that the drama of the $14 billion bridge-loan to the private plane flying executives of the 'big three' automakers was a ridiculous farce yet? Congress is making GM/Ford/Chrysler execs jump through flaming hoops for $14 Billion, but the bankers got the brother-in-law deal, veritably tiny oversight and 'controls', and they are still flying high in their corporate jets, I assure you. What's $14 Billion, Mr. and Mrs. Senator? Ah, the people are now watching, so let's grandstand and pass the buck (but not literally)... The difference with this and the banks? The people weren't watching so much then, were they? Bankers are too far separated from the face of the people, while Ford, GM, and Chrysler are eyed every day. So now, the Congress is a champion of the people, as long as the people forget that they just handed out deficit-exploding amounts to the bankers...
AIG's response was a commitment that its CEO would accept a token $1 compensation for the next year, and its 60 top executives would not receive bonuses and would also adhere to 'strict compensation limits'. I wonder if they'll be riding in Chevrolet Volts and eat at Wendy's too? Nah...
Undoubtedly, AIG doesn't see any problem though, with paying $440,000 for a retreat event for some of their California 'top performers', (how good can a $25 Billion loss be considered, performance-wise?) Also, AIG is OK with a special employee retention program paying sizable lump sum disbursements for the 'upper echelon' at the failing company, (ranging from $92,000.00 to $4 million), to keep them from leaving their 'essential' positions for another year. No, these aren't bonuses for performance, per se', they are payments to keep these folks 'in their seat'. These 'non-bonus' bonuses in some cases add up to double and triple their actual salaries. Initially, AIG was to pay such sums to 130, but now, 168 employees will be receiving these 'retention' checks. Just don't call them bonuses, because that would be something they said they weren't going to do.. OK?
Who is questioning this practice and bringing it to light? Why, the Congress, of course... I can't help but think that we've got the wolves from the barbershop, standing over the hen house full of freshly-hatched golden eggs, provided of course, by you and I. Hey, its the holidays, the season of giving, isn't it?
And what about deficits? Wasn't it you same Congressmen and women who just a few months ago were pulling your hair out over deficit spending and leaving debts to our children? Here's a news bulletin, folks, if you print more, it just means less...
Ron Paul's statements regarding 'nationalization' might sound like Robert Byrd yelling "BRUTALITY!", but the message is clear, in-your-face, and cannot be ignored. The government is rollercoastering down the path of the socialization of the American economy, all while many countries who have traditionally been the most socialized in the world, are cutting taxes, transitioning to free markets, and reducing government spending. Those typically referring to themselves as 'progressives' are proposing and supporting some of the most regressive moves ever in our history. "Its time for another New Deal!!" they cry, when all we are really being handed is the promise of a much worse fate then even the original new deal dealt us. The free market isn't really free anymore, and these latest developments only serve as more golden chains wrapped around the feet of the people.
Our government is manufacturing its own 'ministries'. We will have the Ministry of Insurance, The Ministry of Investment, The Ministry of Mortgages, The Ministry of Health care, The Ministry of Automobile Manufacturing, The Ministry of 'Fairness' in Information, The Ministry of Homeland Security, and from their pulpits will spew more propaganda, more regulation, more 'standards' of conduct in production and business practices.. in short, we are dashing for a finish line where capitalism, opportunities, civil liberties, and personal responsibility will be only memories of a kinder, gentler era.
Where is our Orwell-ian sensitivity? Not gone, but certainly in intensive care, and mostly due to the residual hype behind the fond promise of a single word - CHANGE. Yes, Virginia, even before the Emperor of change dons his new finely tailored, and albeit transparent robes, we are seeing CHANGE in this country in vastly new and perhaps never-before imaginable ways. The Jeffersons, Hamiltons, Paynes, and Hancocks of our history are rolling in their graves at the speed of sound, and we are so deafened by the din of our media that we cannot hear the rumble of the underground sonic booms.
When you 'own' something, you generally have some say-so over how, when, and where it is used. You, by nature of the concept of ownership, receive the benefit of the property owned, and such is the right and entitlement of 'ownership'. I'll again refer to my earlier mention of the 'federal government' 'owning' equity stock in AIG, and remind you that although we once considered our government an extension of the people who empower it, such is absolutely no longer the case. Our government is now a self-supporting, self-serving, self-aggrandizing, overbearing, despotic, and unilaterally self-actuating entity. The concept of 'serving' the people is now seemingly completely foreign. If you disagree, let me ask you: What expectation do you have of sharing in an ownership interest of AIG? What expectation do you have of receiving benefit from the 'big three' automakers, should they be funneled a flow of your faithfully paid taxes as well? Need a new car? Could you better afford one if you didn't dole out 20-30% of your wages a month?
Now, let me qualify this, I am speaking directly to what I consider real taxpayers. I do not mean those that pay $100 a year in withholding only to receive $6000 in windfall every March or April, courtesy of the poor bastards who pay more than a fair share and at the behest of those who demand that wealth be re-distributed. How whorish and inconceivably ridiculous is it to spew hatred and promises of punitive tax increases for the wealthiest Americans (when espousing such rhetoric serves your political purposes), then in reality feed the very same corporate cash cows who you claim to despise more wealth as soon as your political purposes are served?
Also, how asinine is it to force private businesses in a given industry to conform with strict and prohibitive standards, imposed upon them under a plan literally designed to re-invent their market over minority-espoused concepts (such as extremist environmentalism), without providing even the first real and viable market incentive to sway the consumers themselves to gravitate toward a desire of the new standards? You are prescribing failure for the manufacturers, and standing in line to rescue them in a plan akin to a hostile takeover. Are you dying to drive a tiny cramped go-cart of a car that only a dealership can service, that runs 45 mph for a range of 40 miles, and pay $10,000 more for it? Not I and no, thank you. I very much like my full-size crew cab pickup, and I'm not embarrassed to say so. When your go-cart runs out of juice, I'll be happy to guzzle a few more gallons pulling you to the next coal-powered electrical outlet. And you will damn-well appreciate it, too.
Notice that I have made nearly -0- inference of party affiliations here. Not Neo-cons, Liberals, Democrats, Republicans, Nationalists, and not even the Al Franken-stein Blabberist Party. I care less to lay blame on any but the government-serving political elite federalist power mongers, et al. I point my nimble fingers at all who believe that they are the salvation of this country, when, in fact they are its primary illness, and should be excised like the cancer that they are by the voices and votes of the people whose backs they rode into their mahogany-paneled offices on.
Here's perhaps the most ridiculous point of the despicable game that's being played in the beltway; that what is being doled out by government is the enough cash to literally grant hundreds of thousands of dollars to each and every taxpayer in America. Really, do the math yourself. How could anyone dare not realize just how absolutely huge, fat, bloated, overbearing, putrid, gaseous, elitist, and self-serving our government has become?
I used cancer as the illness we are infected with, which in essence is a rampant, abnormal cellular growth which invades the body's organs, choking off lifeblood and interfering with the body's designed and natural functions. The disease is also terribly painful. Over our recent history, our government has been that type of malady, it has actively used funding as a means by which to exert control over America's traditionally private institutions and is supplanting the normal ebb and flow of our once-free society. It is gradually, furtively, and firmly seizing control of once self-controlled destiny, altering it into an untenable bureaucratic mass of regulation, control, and interference with our individual lives. The price must be paid. It is terribly painful, and it is a gradual, but definitive death of the natural scheme of a democratic republic in that it chokes the life out of the backbone of the grand American design, a free market, capitalist economy. The ultimate irony is, that this is being done all at our own expense. We are feeding the disease, voting for it, hyping it, cheering it, loving it, and slowly dying by its hands.
Are we all hibernating? At what point do we all wake up? Hopefully before it is too late to reverse the prognosis. I fear that it may well be. It took years of smoke and mirrors to fool Americans into believing that government is the solution to our problems, and I fear twice as long for us to realize that what our government has become, is the problem.
We now return you to your regularly-scheduled mass of lies, hype, and hysteria...