So, in the most classic example of biting the hand that feeds you I've heard in years, the board of directors of AIG is considering today whether to sue the Federal government for $24 billion, as punishment for the act of saving AIG from bankruptcy and reducing the value of all of their holdings in it to zero:
"Behind the scenes, the restored insurance company is weighing whether
to tell the government agencies that rescued it during the financial
crisis: thanks, but you cheated our shareholders.
The board of
A.I.G. will meet on Wednesday to consider joining a $25 billion
shareholder lawsuit against the government, court records show. The
lawsuit does not argue that government help was not needed. It contends
that the onerous nature of the rescue...deprived
shareholders of tens of billions of dollars..."
Which, of course, as is the case whenever rich people squander their money, they want paid back by the rest of us, no matter how much else we have done to shield them from poverty.
This action is being regarded far and wide as a grotesque absurdity and a public relations disaster. However, there is another way to look at it. Here's another quote from the above New York Times article:
"The choice is not a simple one for the insurer. Its board members, most of whom joined after the bailout, owe a duty to shareholders to consider the lawsuit. If the board does not give careful consideration to the case, Mr. Greenberg could challenge its decision to abstain."
In this little remark is contained a stark truth about the state of Capitalist democracy in our country today, a few decades after corporations basically were given the right to legislate on our behalf. The remark is, in fact, entirely true, and it reveals the degree to which the short term interests of the rich (the only interests that really command their attention) are in direct conflict to the good of the nation. The notion of "fiduciary responsibility" has, since the days of the late Saint Reagan and his gospel of greed, come to be accepted as a license to appropriate for themselves every bit of wealth they can possibly lay claim to in the name of the shareholders (except, of course, when it comes to the CEO's own salaries) regardless of even the appearance of human decency.
When we talk about the "captains of industry" these days, we must remember that we are talking about a group of people, with few exceptions, who are not brilliant entrepreneurs or savvy managers of corporate production, but little more than a pack of savage animals fighting over any scrap of dead meat they can find. We are never going to free ourselves from their death grip until we treat them as the monsters they are, and make them suffer horribly for the damage they do to us every day. There is no other way to stop them. They don't give a damn about the welfare of anyone but themselves, and if we concern ourselves with their welfare, we are only helping them to eat us alive.