The power to tax is the power to destroy

Like anyone with a tiny bit of brain I am appalled and angry at the greed and venality of the AIG bonus payments. Stupid, unfair, likely criminal, yes, yes, yes, all of these things. "It's an outrage". The word "outrage" Obama and his many underlings trotted out today is so overused as to become hackneyed (Politicians love to parade their outrage. Try reading about events in the 1880s, "outrages" were declared on an excessive, near-daily basis. I was in fact just writing about that earlier today).

Robert Reich, generally good for a quip, had the best solution: the feds should finally just take over AIG, cut it up, and give the worthless parts away to either Fox News or North Korea.

Truthfully, though, isn't this whole Monday morning mini-shit storm just a red herring? A diversion from what truly ails us?

Like all such media storms, it will be replaced with some other issue for the talking heads in a few days, and the mouthing of faux populism by people like Charles Schumer (!) calling for confiscatory taxation will have no more actual political cost, or real impact, than the wearing of out-of-style clothing.

Meanwhile, we are still being hoodwinked. What is a $165 million dollars in bonuses when we have frittered away billions on we don't even know what? We've wasted $200 billion on AIG alone, much of that money going to pay off foreign banks who made bad investments. Oh yes, I know, it's an outrage

The more profound raw deal we have been force fed is simply not being made manifest, why is that? Why hasn't there been the same red hot fury at the garagantuan and onging waste of federal tax dollars in the bank bailout stretching back to last fall? Why has nothing been done to punish those who are guilty in any number of ways?

One bit of theatre was effectively managed last week to make it seem like the guilty are paying a cost--they have already convicted and sent Madoff to prison.

But who cares? He stole from gullible private investors willingly forking over their money in the pursuit of individual wealth. The failing banks on Wall Street have destroyed the American financial system and dragged the world into recession. Billions of dollars in publicly held wealth has evaporated. And the bailout comes out of our pockets with the full force of state taxation authority (you will recall John Marshall's comment quoted at top). We are told we have no choice (Bernanke: "we have no choice"), and we are given additional no choices in the matter, and indeed it was designed expertly by those in the know to give us no oversight or way out.

Madoff at least made up statements for people to read and admire. All we are getting in return for our billions is cheap theatre tuned to the 24 news cycle.

Incidentally, why are these AIG contracts so sacred? Aren't most contracts filled with outs anyway? (AIG used to think so). The UAW contracts with GM were considered not only un-sacred but objects of scorn. Their unilateral revision was trotted out as the essential precondition for the future of the entire American auto industry. Why can workers' contracts so readily be annihilated while those of masters of the universe? (That was a rhetorical question.)

Let's hope Obama figures out that, among other things, Tim Geithner is a financial Jeremiah Wright. He is fostering and peddling extremist folly and playing to the fringe elements of his own constituency (which is Wall Street, not the taxpayers and voters). It is time to cut him loose before his utterly skewed world view is allowed to destroy the onward progress of needed "change we can believe in."

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