AIG: the distance between “I hope they commit suicide” and “off with their heads”

    According to New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, 73 employees of AIG (American International Group) took home $1 million or more in bonuses last week. In total, the “too big to fail” insurer recently paid out $165 million in bonuses to its employees. According to the CEO of the company, Edward M. Liddy, they were contractually obligated to make the payments from the $170 billion they took from the American people in the form of a bailout. People, as you might imagine, are irate at thought of these detestable individuals, who almost brought our entire economic system crashing down, being rewarded in this fashion.

    Iowa Senator Charles Grassley was speaking for many Americans when he shared his hope that AIG executives would accept responsibility for their actions and promptly kill themselves. According to the Washington Post, the company has hired guards to stand watch outside of the AIG Financial Products division in Connecticut. The death threats are apparently pouring in, and employees are fearing for their lives. One senior Financial Products manager is quoted as saying, “It’s going to blow up… I have a horrible, horrible, horrible feeling that this is going to end badly.”

    President Obama, as you may know, has given the word to people in the Treasury Department that they should “pursue every legal avenue to block these bonuses.” And, failing that, Representative Steve Israel has drafted a bill that would see their bonuses taxed at 100%. But I suppose it’s still possible that the bonuses will go through, and that the level of hostility directed at these folks will grow.

    Things are likely to build this week, as the CEO of AIG goes in front of Congress tomorrow, and the folks at Service Employees International United (SEIU) and ACORN hold over 100 Take Back the Economy rallies on Thursday. One suspects the rallies will be peaceful, but if I were one of the 73 execs to take over $1 million in bonus pay from the pockets of struggling American families, I might be rethinking my decision right about now. After all, by Thursday, I’m pretty sure we’ll have names and addresses.

    And, no, I don’t think we’re in any danger of lynch mobs forming… at least not yet. I am, however, curious as to how far along that continuum we are. “I hope they do the right thing and kill themselves” doesn’t seem to me to be all that far from “off with their heads.”

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      55 Comments

      1. Brackinald Achery
        Posted March 17, 2009 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

        Well, I found this that says part of the stimulus bill protected those bonuses. I can’t vouch for the credibility of the source, as it’s obviously got a political bias, so take it with a grain of salt. Still, if it’s true, it’s true.

      2. Posted March 17, 2009 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

        See also Time’s Let AIG Fail article.

        And, as someone else pointed out, when we bailed out the auto industry they sure as hell didn’t act as though their contracts with employees were sacrosanct. They slashed pay and benefits across the board.

      3. tommy
        Posted March 18, 2009 at 7:15 am | Permalink

        I prefer the more subtle method employed in the movie ‘Sweeney Todd’, minus the whole eat the rich thing.

        This whole situation reminds me of a quote by Clarence Darrow – “First and last, it’s a question of money. Those men who own the earth make the laws to protect what they have”. Never changes, never will.

        The fix was in from the beginning when former Wall Streeters were hired to fix what they had a hand in creating.

      4. West Cross
        Posted March 18, 2009 at 7:49 am | Permalink

        I can definitely understand the outrage, especially when compared to the scrutiny the auto bailout has gotten. Seems like everyone knew the financial bailout didn’t have enough strings attached so they made sure to spell things out more clearly for the auto industry.

        It’s still seems dangerous right now though. I’m no libertarian but the idea of government busting up contracts and applying 100% taxes at will scares me a little. Sure, in this case it’s warranted but whose to say what is right or wrong next time?

      5. Meta
        Posted March 18, 2009 at 7:55 am | Permalink

        “Beware the furry of a patient man.”

        http://www.flickr.com/photos/30366181@N05/sets/72157615436928173/show/

      6. Meta
        Posted March 18, 2009 at 8:27 am | Permalink

        Elliot Spitzer in Slate today:

        Everybody is rushing to condemn AIG’s bonuses, but this simple scandal is obscuring the real disgrace at the insurance giant: Why are AIG’s counterparties getting paid back in full, to the tune of tens of billions of taxpayer dollars?

        For the answer to this question, we need to go back to the very first decision to bail out AIG, made, we are told, by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, then-New York Fed official Timothy Geithner, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke last fall. Post-Lehman’s collapse, they feared a systemic failure could be triggered by AIG’s inability to pay the counterparties to all the sophisticated instruments AIG had sold. And who were AIG’s trading partners? No shock here: Goldman, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, UBS, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, and on it goes. So now we know for sure what we already surmised: The AIG bailout has been a way to hide an enormous second round of cash to the same group that had received TARP money already.

        It all appears, once again, to be the same insiders protecting themselves against sharing the pain and risk of their own bad adventure. The payments to AIG’s counterparties are justified with an appeal to the sanctity of contract. If AIG’s contracts turned out to be shaky, the theory goes, then the whole edifice of the financial system would collapse.

        More:
        http://www.slate.com/id/2213942/

      7. Brackinald Achery
        Posted March 18, 2009 at 9:16 am | Permalink

        But this is about main street, not wall street! Oh how I wish I’d taped c-span the day all our noble senators and representatives were giving speeches as to why all their irate constituents were wrong about the bailout! Don’t buy the phony outrage and crocodile tears; they knew damn well what they were doing. If they didn’t, they’re a lot dumber than most of their constituents and should be recalled for gross incompetance.

      8. Steph's Dad
        Posted March 18, 2009 at 10:07 am | Permalink

        You can watch the AIG hearings online right now.

        http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/18/watching-the-aig-hearing-on-the-hill/?WT.mc_id=fb_nyt11&WT.mc_ev=click

      9. Brackinald Achery
        Posted March 18, 2009 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        Here’s a video holding Barny Frank’s (& Bush’s and Paulsen’s and Geithner’s) feet to the fire, which is exactly what needs to happen. Our hatred of unconstitutional political class tyranny really needs to trancend the red team vs. blue team ruse.

      10. Krisco
        Posted March 18, 2009 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

        Shut the fuck up brackinald.

      11. Carrol
        Posted March 18, 2009 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        I know it’s ill advised to agree with Brackish Acheish, but I do be believe that, to a great extent, the outrage of our elected officials over this is theater at best. They knew damned well what they were doing when they bailed these companies out, and it terrifies them now that the mood of the country is shifting. And it goes all the way to the top. For Obama to feign outrage now is laughable. Still, for the sake of the country, I hope we’re able to navigate through this successfully. Once it’s done, though, I think we need to harness the populist outrage to fight for greater oversight and transparency.

      12. Ol' E Cross
        Posted March 18, 2009 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

        The closest thing I’ve ever received to a bonus was a company I worked for that bought all the employees a lottery ticket one year-end.

        As you may have guessed, I didn’t win. But it sure would have sucked if I had won and it was taxed at 100 percent.

        Seems like those AIG folks have won the lottery. Why can’t we all just be happy for them and their good fortune?

      13. Brackinald Achery
        Posted March 19, 2009 at 9:55 am | Permalink

        Even if we tax their boni at 90%, we’re still giving them a 10% tax payer funded bonus, to reward them for making country-crippling bad investments. That’s what happens when Government meddles with all its do-gooder safety nets into business, supposedly for everybody’s good. This dog and pony show with Congress is so hilarious. If we kept our reps and senators accountable to a strict interpretation of the Constitution, this wouldn’t have happened. The 10th Ammendment is there for a reason: so Congress can’t just do whatever the hell it wants just because they say it’s for our general welfare. But, being greedy ourselves, we want them to break the rules so we get a piece of the pie too, then wonder how the hell this could have happened. Shocking!

      14. yeswecan
        Posted March 19, 2009 at 11:13 am | Permalink

        Yes, this is about the general greed of the American public. Uh huh. And Richard Shelby’s right that labor brought down the car companies. Everybody knows govt shouldn’t decide what happens to the public–the financial system should. Not the president or elected representatives, but Wall Street executives and hedge fund managers–the people out there getting the invisible handjobs from the market. Thankfully the Treasury is full of these people and the Fed’s not much better. And who cares if we all get screwed in the name of the market and freedom (talk about buzzwords)? It’s called democracy.

        Some people believe our democracy does not have to run in this way. It’s a matter of faith and hope, yes. And belief that this country and its people can come up with better solutions for our future. We need better government, not bigger or smaller govt. In fact, we should stop distorting the issue with these misnomers. Government is the collective power of a people—we can’t eschew it and we can’t afford to be cynical about it. Even if you think it’s an evil, it’s a necessary one.

      15. Brackinald Achery
        Posted March 19, 2009 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

        Jesus help us.

      16. Brackinald Achery
        Posted March 19, 2009 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

        Or maybe you were being satirical and I just didn’t get it.

      17. Brackinald Achery
        Posted March 19, 2009 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

        I think, technically, taxing 90% of these guys’ boni is a bill of attainder, which is expressly forbidden by the Constitution.

        So not only does Congress violate the Constitution by bailing out AIG in the first place (Congress is not explicitly authorized to bail out businesses by the Constitution; cross-reference with the 10th Ammendment), but they further violate the Constitution by passing a Bill of Attainder, which is explicitly forbidden in the Constitution.

        Do we realize the the Constitution IS the highest law of the land? That it’s a legal contract between us the people and the Federal Government, our reps and servants? That this shit is ILLEGAL??? That our reps and senators are breaking the law??? Do we care? What higher crime is there in the US than breaking the highest law of the United States??? Did they take an oath of office to do whatever is politically expedient at our expense, or to uphold and defend the Constitution?

      18. Brackinald Achery
        Posted March 19, 2009 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

        Let’s try that again with this link instead.

      19. Brackinald Achery
        Posted March 19, 2009 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

        I think it might be an ex post facto law as well, since their getting their bonuses was not illegal at the time, and was, in fact, protected by Obama’s stimulus law.

        Eat my bacon grease!

      20. Brackinald Achery
        Posted March 19, 2009 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

        Before I give it a rest, I’d like to point out one last time that not illegally bailing out anybody in the first place, no matter what the fear-mongering, is the solution to these types of problems. I guess that’s not obvious to everyone yet, inexplicably.

      21. Mike
        Posted March 19, 2009 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

        BA, you know I’m with you on the whole market anarchy thing (have you gotten that far yet?), but “invisible handjob” is the new phrase of the year. I’m just going to let that and “stimulus package” roll around in my head for a while and see what comes out.

        :|

      22. Ol' E Cross
        Posted March 19, 2009 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

        (Pssst. Psssst! BA … After the fourth post in a row you start to sound a little crazy.)

      23. Brackinald Achery
        Posted March 19, 2009 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

        I’m trying to incorperate more multiple punctuations and ALL CAPS into my presentation as well, for the full-on crazy ranting blog comment effect, and addressing everyone collectively. FUCK THE HONEY, PEOPLE!!! IT’S VINEGAR TIME!!!!

      24. tracy
        Posted March 19, 2009 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

        he tries to act cute but he’s a stupid asshole.

      25. LC
        Posted March 19, 2009 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

        We began with tribes, one against another. Then we moved to city states. Then states, then nations. Human history is defined by economics and power. Both are, by my book, productive motivators.

        Take a deep breath and digest the meaning of “globalization.” Take another breath.

        The United States, as you defend it, no longer exists. It’s military is acquired. It’s systems subsumed. We’ve moved past tribes, cities, states, and finally nations. It has become, at long last, a truly small world. The false confines of borders are gone. Military and economic might is no longer defined by geography but by cunning, impetus and will.

        If you can move beyond your primitive, parochial views of irrationally geographically defined “us versus them” you’ll find there is ample opportunity for personal progress. The only thing that has happened is wealth and poverty are being more uniformly distributed. In the global economy you will not be rich or poor based on what borders you reside on, but what you can contribute to your own success and where you stake your claim. There is no nationalism left to cling to. Our competing interests cross borders. There will be winners and their will be losers. The new winners and losers have nothing to do with arbitrary lines in the sand.

        I for one find that refreshing.

      26. kjc
        Posted March 20, 2009 at 6:51 am | Permalink

        There’s plenty of evidence that these contracts guaranteeing bonuses, which were signed just last year, were fraudulent–i.e., the company knew it was in trouble and so did the people who agreed to pay/receive the bonuses. This is neither here nor there with the argument against taxing them. Personally I’d rather a criminal investigation were the course of action. Which could still happen.

        I’m going to try that Bill of Attainder argument on the Defense of Marriage Act, Prop 8, etc.

      27. Brackinald Achery
        Posted March 20, 2009 at 7:39 am | Permalink

        Damn, LC. I’m really trying to hold off on becoming a cospiracy theorist and going on and on about the NWO, an engineered economic crisis, and a one world currency, because those CTer guys drive me nuts and strike me as fear-mongering demagogues . You’re not making it easy.

      28. Brackinald Achery
        Posted March 20, 2009 at 8:00 am | Permalink

        And LC, have fun prospering by your ruthless lawless globalist cunning, impetus and will, at other peoples’ expense. Tell Jesus when you die that I said thanks for not making me you.

      29. EOS
        Posted March 20, 2009 at 8:19 am | Permalink

        LC -

        The only thing being distributed under your system is uniform poverty and loss of freedom.

      30. Freedom Fries
        Posted March 20, 2009 at 9:18 am | Permalink

        But, Eos, you like the idea of uniform poverty and loss of freedom.

      31. Liberty Cabbage
        Posted March 20, 2009 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        I think our token small government minstrels have finally gone off the deep end.

      32. jorj
        Posted March 20, 2009 at 10:55 am | Permalink

        Can we ban Brachass yet, for humanity’s sake!

        Mark, I assume you can you tell who is posting even if they change there name and email address?

      33. Brackinald Achery
        Posted March 20, 2009 at 11:24 am | Permalink

        Mike, it is a great phrase. I would say the handjobs are invisible because our government tied a blindfold on us and told us to milk vigorously to recieve free money. We’re rubes.

      34. Brackinald Achery
        Posted March 20, 2009 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        You know, the bright side of the fed injecting over 1 trillion fiat dollars into the system (which is really a far greater outrage than even the AIG thing), is that we’re all going to be millionaires soon.

      35. Posted March 20, 2009 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        This post on fivethirtyeight.com is a brilliantly-insightful look at why AIG did this. The key point is that these were “not really bonuses, which we usually think of as incentive-based compensation. On the contrary, they are something the opposite of bonuses: they took compensation that had been incentive-based and guaranteed it. It’s precisely because that compensation was guaranteed — not incentive-based — that it is difficult to undo.”

      36. Posted March 20, 2009 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        From deep in the comments of the above-referenced-post is a nice plain-English summary of the whole thing:

        Salespeople: Ok, no more profit on these deals, meaning we’re working for nothing AND you’re shutting us down? Cya!
        AIG: Errr. Wait. We need you guys to finish working your portfolio of contracts and close them out so we can shut down the division.
        Salespeople: Errr. No
        AIG: We’ll give you a severance equal to your sales last year.
        Salespeople: Errr. Ok. That sounds good.
        (Several Months later)
        Salesperson: Ok! My portfolio is empty.
        AIG: Ahh. I see. Your portfolio is empty. Hand over your badge. We’ll cut you a check it’ll be deposited into the account you have with us
        Salesperson: TYVM
        THE END.

      37. LC
        Posted March 20, 2009 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

        Brackinald, If two teams are competing, and one runs a play that wins the game, is that a conspiracy? If someone builds a better widget? Conspiracy? Hell no. It’s called innovation and astute planning. Conspiracy is a excuse made up by losers. Their is no skull and bones. There’s simply anticipation and execution.

        EOS, Freedom? Keep watching Braveheart. Do you believe Americans working two shit jobs to pay the rent feel free? What do you mean by freedom? Here’s what I mean. Freedom, by definition, is a lack of constraints. These constraints include borders. Why should I prop up failing businesses for Americans who think employment is a god given right when people in more fertile grounds understand economic success as something to be worked for and earned? Entitlement is death to progress. Look at any society in history and you’ll find people who are entirely free in every way and people who are slaves. We are all born slaves. Freedom is acquired. I’m confident I live, invest and profit with more freedom than you can imagine.

        My point was governments have always been and remain commodities. Useful commodities with high return on investment.

        But if you two want to get all hippy moralist, here’s what lets me sleep at night. My system does away with bigotry and discrimination. Those willing to earn, earn. Those with resources, receive reward. None of this entitlement by race/geography bullshit. I’m simply suggesting the world, and opportunity, is bigger than your contrived boundaries and ideologies.

        As for Jesus, Brackinald, if you think he’ll be pleased with you bunkering down in a foxhole and crying foul at every move, go for it. And if EOS thinks he’ll be toasting him for defending some contrived and utterly false concept of freedom, press on. I like to think whoever greets me in the afterlife will shake my hand for making the most of whatever opportunity I was given. I like to think the higher power values freedom and actually knows what it is.

      38. Ol' E Cross
        Posted March 20, 2009 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

        LC.

        And so you exhibit freedom by chasing down every loose dime you can that clangs around the globe? “Freedom by definition is a lack of constraints.”

        There was this kid in my high school that collected pennies. He was a “unique” kid, much like yourself. Some in the school figured out that if you rolled a penny down the hall, he’d compulsively chase after it. People rolled pennies all year. He chased them down and got every one. Even with people laughing, he couldn’t resist. Had to collect those pennies at any cost.

        Is this your definition of freedom? How, exactly, are you more free than the kid chasing others’ loose change down hallways? Whatever the cost? What are you free from? What are you free to do?

        As an aside, I’d like to thank you for pausing to comment on this blog. It’s not often we get international gazillioniares stopping by to offer advise to us poor saps.

      39. Brackinald Achery
        Posted March 21, 2009 at 12:48 am | Permalink

        Right on, OEC.

        LC — I do appreciate your machiavellian honesty. I also agree with your general distaste for entitlements, but for the reason that entitlement teams are basically playing the same game as you. The “use government as a football with guns” philosophy does seem pragmatic, if it weren’t for the fact that there actually is a God who upholds the rights of the oppressed, even if they are lazy idiots, or outnumbered moralizers. Yes, you can gain the world in exchange for your soul, or else why do it? Utilizing violence and lies (in this case, Government) to gain advantage over those who do not, justifying it by saying others are suckers for not also doing so (and therefore deserving of being screwed), is certainly a temptation. Being victemized by others who do this increases the temptation to not be a victem by victemizing others first. I myself often realize how easy it would be to screw over most people on this blog who have no clue about economics. All I’d have to do to sell them some bullshit is tell them what they want to hear. But I don’t, because one pragmatic assessment I make of reality is the God factor. He is hard to piss off, but not impossible to piss off, and when he does get pissed because you advance yourself by screwing other people over, you’re totally fucked without remedy (except changing your ways, if you get that option). That’s real pragmatism. You’re not being realistic. I find it more advantageous in the long term to look like a powerless fool crying piteously about the sky falling, because I believe it’s true, I care about my audience even if they exasperate and don’t believe me, I believe God would hold me guilty if I didn’t, and I believe my existance is a lot longer than 80 or so years. Frankly, my gentle, truth-telling God scares me way more than you or anyone who might work for you (if you are indeed some gazillionaire globalist benefitting from an engineered financial collapse, which I find hard to believe), though I’m sure (if that were the case)your ability to make your opponents suffer is impressive. It’s just not AS impressive as a loving God’s, no disrespect.

        I also take comfort, as a Calvenist, that God’s made you wrong about how to treat people on purpose.

      40. Posted March 21, 2009 at 1:00 am | Permalink

        Or, as my friend Billy once put it, “it’s illegal to fuck a retard.”

      41. kjc
        Posted March 21, 2009 at 8:00 am | Permalink

        “I myself often realize how easy it would be to screw over most people on this blog who have no clue about economics. All I’d have to do to sell them some bullshit is tell them what they want to hear. But I don’t, because one pragmatic assessment I make of reality is the God factor. He is hard to piss off, but not impossible to piss off, and when he does get pissed because you advance yourself by screwing other people over, you’re totally fucked without remedy (except changing your ways, if you get that option). That’s real pragmatism. You’re not being realistic. I find it more advantageous in the long term to look like a powerless fool crying piteously about the sky falling, because I believe it’s true, I care about my audience even if they exasperate and don’t believe me, I believe God would hold me guilty if I didn’t, and I believe my existance is a lot longer than 80 or so years.”

        Christ in the house, yo.

      42. Jim
        Posted March 21, 2009 at 9:00 am | Permalink

        Until now I’ve given Obama the benefit of the doubt, but I no longer think he knows what he’s doing in this crisis:
        http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/21/despair-over-financial-policy/

      43. LC
        Posted March 21, 2009 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

        Ole Cross. What makes you think in your weak attempt at correlation that I wasn’t the one tossing pennies? Better yet, are you suggesting anyone who desires something, whether it’s love, currency, baseball cards or world peace isn’t free? Who then is free besides fucking budda?

        BrackA. I take by your hypocritical last resort of summoning antiquated local deities that you’ve run out of anything actually useful to say. Fine then. Cling to your God and Guns. I think you’re missing my point. Government has always been a commodity. It has always been football with guns. Are you really naive enough to think otherwise? It has always served at the will of those who place it in power. The only, I say again only, thing that has changed is borders. You can no longer hide behind a particular flag and demand payment based on race or geography.

        Would the Jesus you wave want to pass bucks to ambivalent workers one country while others children starve? I am not fucking victimizing anyone. I am investing in people and places who have been excluded from investment by rights demanding flag waving screw the rest of the world Jesus love me me me unproductives. People keep telling me their god loves the whole world. Then they get pissed when I invest in some other part of the world. Apparently the answer to wwjd is play favorites.

        And no I’m not a gazillionaire. But I am doing far better investing in people and places that show drive and initiative rather than in places that they think the world is their birthright and summon God whenever someone challenges that idea. Fuck God Bless America. That’s just double talk for God Bless Me. At least I cut to the chase.

      44. LC
        Posted March 21, 2009 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

        And I have to confess I’m still trying to figure out what the hell EOS means by “uniform poverty”? Can someone clue me in on where I’ve proposed anything uniform? I thought I was suggesting that we take the nationalistic uniforms off of poverty. Then I read more posts and realized EOS just likes making up something that sounds good in his head but really has no idea what the fuck it means.

      45. EOS
        Posted March 22, 2009 at 8:59 am | Permalink

        You’ve proposed uniformity of governments, lack of borders, the obliteration of national identities. You suggest that the United States rose to be the sole superpower of the world merely because of race and geography?

        The United States became the greatest nation in history because of our foundations in Judeo-Christian values, our economy based on capitalistic principals, and the wisdom of a constitution that placed the authority with the people and placed restraints on the government. We’ve welcomed people of all races and all countries. Our failures today are a direct result of the majorities abandonment of Christian values – greed, dishonesty, sexual licentiousness. Our failures are a result of an abandonment of capitalistic economics – entitlement philosophies; medical care and home ownership have become rights, we believe in equal outcomes for all individuals, not equal opportunities. Alcoholism and drug addiction qualifies a person for 100% disabilty payments for God’s sake. But perhaps most importantly, we have failed because the people let government abandon the constitutional principals that were in place to restrain abuses. We threw out the constitution over 50 years ago and the people have remained silent. Congress no longer declares war. Congress no longer even reads the laws that they vote on. Executive orders are signed and then declared classified. The courts don’t rule on the constitutionality of cases, they invent new rights and intrusive government powers as they deem fit. And our government participates in supranational organizations giving them undefined jurisdiction over American citizens without a shred of authority to do so and without the consent of the governed.

        The International Criminal Court does not recognize the Bill of Rights. The UN consists of a majority of countries who hate us. Should they have the power to dictate our environmental laws and medical practices? Muslim countries would like to see Sharia law imposed world-wide. Should we adopt their practice of killing rape victims? Communist China has killed more of its own people than all the wars in all the history of mankind. Should we participate more in trade with them so that they can grow stronger? They’re flooding our markets with poisoned toys and pet food.

        Call ATT for a billing problem and you’ll speak to a succession of Indian citizens, whose accents make communication difficult, but who are willing to work for $50 a month. India has thousands of engineers willing to work 70 hour work weeks for $20K a year. I’ve read that McDonald’s is looking into drive thru windows answered by third world country residents. There’s no reason that the person who takes your order has to be located on site. Walk through the laboratories on U of M campus and count the number of foreign PhD’s working for substandard wages. 95% of Americans who earn their PhD’s in the biosciences do not get tenure track positions at our Universities, but our Universities continually claim that their are no qualified American applicants for jobs. They offer jobs that require 12 years post-secondary training for salaries that are less than $30K.

        I wasn’t entirely accurate when I said globalization results in uniform poverty. Only 99.9% of the people are kept under control by their daily struggle for existence, but a few in power become incredibly rich. Such are the plans of those who promote a New World Order.

      46. Posted March 22, 2009 at 10:33 am | Permalink

        “They offer jobs that require 12 years post-secondary training for salaries that are less than $30K.”

        EoS, you have no idea what you are talking about.

      47. Glen S.
        Posted March 22, 2009 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        The history of the United States has always been a struggle between our better national nature — democracy, equality, charity, tolerance, innovation, opportunity, positive global leadership, etc.; and our lesser nature — plutocracy, inequality, greed, discrimination, social stratification, colonialism, etc.

        However, I think the main problem with the United States becoming the “greatest nation in history,” is exactly that: We started thinking of ourselves as the “greatest nation in history.”

        We began to believe — and were encouraged by our leaders to believe — that our nation was “exceptional,” and that therefore none of the normal rules that apply to nations, institutions and individuals applied to us. We believed ourselves exempt from the normal rules that govern relations between nations and peoples; We believed ourselves exempt from any limits imposed by the environment; And, as the unfolding economic depression highlights — we believed ourselves exempt from the basic laws and limits of economics.

        If, in the near term, the United States is able to avoid a complete economic meltdown and/or national bankruptcy and currency collapse, we may eventually recover some of our national dignity and be able to begin to stabilize our economy, our environment, and our society. Only then, once we have dispensed with our “greatest nation on earth” delusions of grandeur, might we be able to begin to play a positive and constructive role in providing positive leadership in the world community.

      48. Brackinald Achery
        Posted March 22, 2009 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        LC — I don’t have a problem with you investing in other countries or hiring foreign workers, personally. I hate protectionism. I do have a problem with people using governments as a commodity, because the implication of the football with guns is that the threat or application of force, with fraudulent justification, is used to coerce less powerful people to your advantage, which is indeed victemizing people. Protectionism does that, which is why I don’t like it. I like free trade. You can’t have real free trade with governments getting involved handicapping things with Nafta and all that crap.

        I’d invest in China right now too, if I were interested in investing. But if I wanted to coerce others by using the football with guns as a commodity, I might as well just be honest and join the mafia, or be real honest and sell crack to idiots and shoot my rivals outright.

      49. EOS
        Posted March 22, 2009 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

        Dude -
        4 years college, 2 yrs masters, 2-5 years thesis, a couple post doc positions… Sometimes more than 12 years post secondary. Many foreigners have an MD/PhD. (even more training). U of M is required to post a notice in the workplace every time they hire a foreign national under a H-1 status, which means they can’t find a qualified American. I guarantee that they have such a notice in every department of the Medical School. And their salaries are publicized each year.

      50. Brackinald Achery
        Posted March 22, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

        Right on, Glen. I actually heard a guy from the fed say “hyperinflation? No, ha ha, this is America,” all smug and shit as if that actually meant something and settled the argument. Enough people are just as wrong-headed today as in days gone by, in my opinion, to make any bad result possible. Just because we have iPods instead of 8-tracks doesn’t make us collectively wiser.

      51. EOS
        Posted March 22, 2009 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        Glen,

        If not the U.S., which country is/was the greatest superpower in the world? Which country has more stringent environmental regulations? Which country provides more foreign aid to third world developing countries? Whose citizens give more to charitable causes and disaster relief? What other country offers more opportunities to persons born to families of ordinary means? Which pluralistic society has less discrimination? What other country has sacrificed so much to preserve the freedoms of people residing in other nations? We have been exceptional and we can be exceptional again.

      52. Mark H.
        Posted March 22, 2009 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

        EOS, if you seriously think that the USA is ‘the sole superpower’ in the world today, i suggest you pay some attention to what’s really happening in the world. Ever hear of China? It’s a superpower by all measures – economic power (in agriculture, manufacturing, and finance), political power, military power, diplomatic power. I am not saying that China is therefore our enemy, but only the short sighted think that world politics ended with the demise of the USSR. Plus, why should anyone think being a superpower is always an advantage, or a desirable destiny?

      53. Posted March 22, 2009 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

        Eos, have you ever heard of a country called Canada?

      54. Glen S.
        Posted March 22, 2009 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

        EOS,

        We have, without a doubt, the world’s strongest military and the its largest economy. And yes, we have much to be proud of as a people and as a nation. I believe, as I think you do, that Americans are generally a very generous people, and that our nation has much to offer the world.

        In recent years, however, we seem to have lost our way … as individuals, many of us have become entranced by a culture of info-tainment, and consumed with material excess; while, as a nation, we (and our leaders) have allowed our military and economic power blind us to both domestic and international realities.

        As an American, of course I want our country to be (and to be perceived as) “exceptional.” I just want that exceptionalism to be based on something more than military swagger, personal wealth and economic might. Being a leader in fostering peace, social justice, economic opportunity, and environmental sustainability — both at home and abroad — would be a great way to start.

      55. EOS
        Posted March 22, 2009 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

        Glen,
        I think we found something to agree on!

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