Thursday, March 19, 2009

Throw the bums out of office

Fuckity fuck fuck:

WASHINGTON, March 19 (Reuters) - The U.S. Congress took a big step toward shutting down the controversial bonuses American International Group (AIG.N) awarded its executives despite receiving $180 billion in government aid.

But the House of Representatives passage of a bill to slap a 90 percent federal tax on those bonuses is only a first step toward enacting legislation.

Sdferr, in comments to previous post:

Populism in one form or another has been a function of human political life since time immemorial. As for demagoguery, that word was invented to describe a phenomenon born in the 5th century BC Athens and has been an off and on fact of life in democracies ever since. While some form of totalitarianism may always loom out there in thought space, I don't think we're in particular danger of it coming to the US anytime soon.

But we are in danger of losing the center of our unique political heritage, I think. While on the one hand, we want to re-emplace the good ideas with which our nation was founded and with them, the sober and natural ease of function in which they resulted, on the other hand our legal framework has been so impaired over the last 150 yrs with a myriad of rules and regulations, no one of which can be said to have been the poison pill that has gotten our system to the unintended state we now descry, we seem to require a massive pruning away if any hope of such a restoration is to be possible at all.

But as we look on the doings of our national gov't, it is plainer every day that something has gone terribly awry and not just with the other party, not just with the Democrats I mean. The behavior of the Republicans over the years 2000 - 2006 was of much the same character. But what is that character? What is the particular nature of the problem we face? It seems to me that it might best be characterized in the shorthand rubric of "rent seeking". Those powers over the disposition of the vast sums of wealth accreted by our stupendously successful economy drives every possible beneficiary of said dispositions to court/lobby (and pay) our Congress for their piece of the pie, self-interestedly (long hand for greedily, cf. Friedman/Donohue tapes) of course, which self-interest will not often coincide with the longterm interests of the whole nation. Cruel reality intrudes upon our preferred national narrative. In the original conception, narrow interests were to be welcomed as mutually canceling in the struggle for monopoly power, interest vying with interest, thus placing checks on the road to tyranny.

What can be done? I am uncertain. But I do believe that this problem (and likely a far better portrait of it than I have produced here) is where we ought to focus some large portion of our thoughts on efforts at repair.

Certainly, populism has always been a part of politics. The populist aspect of a politician is supposed to be balance out by a media devoted to truth. This entire AIG bonus witchhunt is nothing but a populist PR stunt aimed to deflect culpability for the mess we in.

I agree that the Republicans were guilty as well, but the media didn't let them get away with it.