Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Winter is almost over. It will be completely over Friday morning. Unfortunately that only means that spring has begun. It doesn’t mean the end of snow has come. There are too many of us who remember snow well into April and I recall at least one snow storm in May. There probably have been more, but I remember the one because it seriously interfered with some plans I had then.

Today will be a nice one with temperatures possibly running into the 50s. Some rain will move in later today and end sometime tomorrow morning. But those 50 degree readings will mean any precipitation will be rain and not snow. Speaking of snow, it is disappearing now at a very rapid pace. The temperatures we’re getting are helping greatly.

The AIG situation is fascinating to follow. The government is working real hard at getting back the money AIG says it contractually must pay in bonuses. I hope you understand the 165-million dollars involved is only a pittance, something like two percent, of the total money in the spending package. But all the attention it’s getting is drawing the taxpayers’ attention away from all the other lack of accountability in that trillion dollar package.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the paying of those bonuses is a huge mistake on AIG’s part. It was taxpayers’ money being used and someone should have said it wasn’t going to happen. If Rep. Barney Frank’s assertion yesterday that the taxpayers own 80% of AIG, then common sense says stopping the payment should have been easy.

But I’m not a contract lawyer, or any other kind of a lawyer for that matter. It seems many times that common sense and law don’t always hold hands. However, as I understand bonuses, they are paid out for performance. If performance wasn’t included in the contracts of those getting the bonuses, then the AIG negotiators should be ashamed of themselves and held responsible.

If performance were included, then the causing of the near bankruptcy and total collapse of AIG leading to the bailout should be a hint of a lack of positive performance and the bonuses denied on that ground. More common sense. Why would anyone get a bonus for driving a company into the ground? But it happens frequently with CEOs getting millions of dollars on the same day that a company proclaims millions of dollars in losses.

I won’t agree with Sen. Charles Grassley who said those getting bonuses should either return them or follow the example of Japanese executives. The senator later said that suicide wasn’t what he really meant, only that the executives should take responsibility for their failure.

There are also reports of billions of dollars going to foreign banking institutions to pay back debt. Some Congress people are upset about that, too.

What all this and other accompanying stories are proving more than anything else is the Democrat, along with three Republicans including Maine’s two, plan for all that spending was given away with relatively no controls, no rules, and no way to track it. It’s AIG demonstrating the total lack of government leadership this week; I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot more follow.

As I said, the biggest reason for all the anger coming out in Washington is an attempt to cover up the real problems with the spending package promoted by the government. I love the “I told you so” line; I think I’ve mentioned ever since the first one that the whole idea of bailouts is bad.

And you and I are paying for it.

The AIG executives, incidentally, will be on Capitol Hill today to testify and answer questions before a Congressional committee.

One person who says he won’t criticize President Obama over the economy is former President George W. Bush. He says President Obama has enough critics and deserves the former President’s support. “I love my country more than I love politics,” says the former President. He’s got a lot more class than many people give him credit for.


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