Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Indignation . . .

I really hate it when politicians get indignant. It's a signal that they're going to abuse their power . . . .

In a speech on the Senate floor, Democrat Charles Schumer, a signee of the letter, noted AIG lost nearly $100 billion last year and is now being propped up by U.S. taxpayer funds. He said providing performance bonuses to employees of the insurance giant "defines 'Alice in Wonderland' business practices ... it boggles the mind."

Schumer called on the AIG employees to return the bonuses.

"If they don't we plan to tax virtually all of it," he said.

This was much more revolting when I heard it on TV and radio than it looks in print. An "attitude" was evident. While I agree that the bonuses are outlandish, especially for a company in the hole, they are, nevertheless, compensation that AIG is required by contract to provide. Just who is the government to come in and, essentially, undo contracts THAT ARE PERFECTLY LEGAL just because they become embarrassing to key politicians.

Now Andrew Cuomo is getting into the act, subpoenaing records. But without any evidence of wrongdoing, this is simply harassment. . . a fishing expedition where one hopes that something will turn up. The Mario Cuomo era of Big Bad Ugly Government is back, apparently, with politicians taking frustrations with their failures out on those who may be in the best position to bring things back in this state.

We've see this on the local front with Prestwick Glen's tax exemption agreement with the Town of New Hartford. The public, rightfully, was outraged to discover that Prestwick Glen's well-heeled clientele would be able to live in fancy digs without paying their fair share of property taxes. When this became known the Town went to court to have the development declared not tax exempt. But what of the agreement? How can the Town have it both ways? Shouldn't Prestwick Glen be entitled to damages for the Town's breach of its agreement?

Decisions have consequences. Sometimes the consequences are unforseen. The AIG debacle could have been avoided by the government placing restrictions on how taxpayer money was used. The Prestwick Glen issue could have been avoided -- or at least defused -- by a lot of public disclosure and discussion before the agreement was signed.

After-the-fact indignation is a clear signal that someone did not do their homework.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with the blogger's comments. A decision is a decision. More important, a contract is a contract and an agreement an agreement. If this system based on the rule of law breaks down, nothing will be certain or sacred. Whether it be local or federal, the government officials and politicians who either fell asleep at the switch or were incompetent in the first instant are more disgraceful than the AIG bonus bunch. One such politician is Mike Arcuri who has voted for bailouts all the way and eveidently doesn't read what he votes for. Now he issues press releases condeming excess. What a joke!

Mrs. Mecomber said...

DITTO DITTO DITTO!!! I heard the story in WIBX thismorning and thought the same things.

Moreover, if you recall, that nes "story" said that taxing AIG (and AIG specifically) for this was "unconstitutional" because the Constitution forbids showing preferential legal treatment to one group and not another.

HELLO?!?! Then why did these special banks and lenders get preferential bailout treatment to begin with?!

Oh it makes me so angry.

Anonymous said...

I do not think you have heard the end from Prestwick. I just shows that unless we start hiring people who know Town Law and understand the mechanics of HR issues, and can manage people we will still have the nice guy on the corner elected. We will still have legal issues that need thousands of dollars of legal opinions because they just don't know. Is it worth it??

Anonymous said...

Does any one know if AIG had gone bankrupt, if they
would have still be on the hook for those bonuses?
I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

If they went bankrupt any and all contracts would be void or up for renogotiation depending on which form of bankruptcy they took.