Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Witch Hunt

Something about the whole AIG hububaloo has not sat well with me. It's not that I don't think the behavior of AIG executives hasn't been outrageous, I do. I suppose my problem with the outrage has been that I suspect their behavior isn't all that unusual -- they're the guys that got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. The moral outrage directed at the one company just felt to me, what's the word...easy, maybe I could even say cheap. I mean, don't know who didn't put a limit on bonus payments in the stimulus package -- the administration or Congress, but I'd bet it didn't make it in there for some simple reason like Wall Streeters have to have what to give in order to fill campaign coffers. And then today, I read this on Sullivan:

Noam calms:

I mean, however you feel about what Geithner knew about the bonuses and when he knew it, you have to concede that his far bigger concern throughout this time was preventing the global economy from self-immolating. As a substantive proposition, how much would we even want a Treasury secretary to focus on $165 million in bonus money while there were hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout money flowing to AIG and other companies?

But actually fixing our problems is not half as much fun as a witch-hunt.

It's that whole witch hunt thing, the bandwagon thing, it just makes me feel somewhat oppositional. Like I've said, there's no reason to defend AIG, but spending all this time and energy shaming one company when there's plenty of shame to go around, not to mention actual legal indictments to hand out seems wasteful, foolish and even distracting from the real work that has to get done.

No comments: