Monday, March 23, 2009

A run on pitchforks at Home Depot

Like Ezra Klein, I'm torn on the issue of the AIG bonuses. One the one hand, it's a pretty trivial amount of money and is probably a distraction. (Can't we just deduct the $165 million from AIG's bailout funds and be done with it?) On the other hand, it's hard not to get angry about the unmitigated gall shown by the folks at AIG:
They should be begging for a shot at redemption. They should work without pay, without sleep, without credit. They should wear sackcloth and ashes. But more than that, they should be trying to help. The damage they wrought might have been unintentional, but that doesn't absolve them of responsibility for the aftermath. What we've got, however, is an economic hit-and-run, with one wrinkle: The collar-popper peeking out of the bloodied Porsche is willing to stick around if we pay him for his time. Give him a bonus and he'll dirty his hands with CPR.
The whole post is worth a read, especially when Ezra compares the folks at AIG to R'as al Ghul.

Beyond that, while I'm normally not that into raw populism and recognize that it has serious downsides (mob justice, scapegoating, racism, etc.), I think a little pitchfork politics is probably healthy in this case. A small, wealthy, greedy elite actually did wreck the country. To be sure, that behavior probably wasn't criminal, and in most cases probably wasn't even intentional. But there should be a stigma attached to this sort of behavior. A modicum of public shaming might really help.

1 comment:

Eric Rubin said...

I say we make all the AIG execs go on American Idol in front of the entire country and make them sing Gloria Gaynor's "I will survive" and afterwards, we get to throw tomatoes and salami slices at them while they sit in a corner sucking their thumb asking for more with a british accent - this would of course all be on television.