Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Outrage and Distraction

Just a few things that have not caused as much outrage as $165 Million AIG bonuses:

500 tons of WMD’s that were the proximate cause of a war which has cost us 4000+ lives and $1 Trillion so far, but which have never been found.

$32 Billion cash, vanished in Iraq. We do not even want to investigate where it went.

100,000 weapons disappeared in Iraq, possibly into the hands of people who will use them against our troops. We do not even want to know who is responsible.

$770 Million in frivolous government spending, based on an outlandishly generous assumption that 90% of the earmarks in the recent omnibus spending bill were serious and reasonable causes.

Yes, this issue is an outrage, but it is pennies of our overall financial crisis and it is a distraction. The very President who campaigned against the “petty distractions of politics” is either being distracted by one of those very distractions or is himself using one of them at a time that we simply cannot afford to be so distracted.

To be dealing with hundreds of billions of dollars in stimulus bills, spending bills, and economic rescue bills and have the public, the media, Congress, Treasury and the Administration all fulminating day after day after day over a paltry sum of $165 Million is utterly absurd. To put that into the perspective of everyday life, that’s like running a major corporation with a budget of hundreds of thousands of dollars and fretting over sixteen cents. That is the President of General Motors counting paper clips in Saginaw.

Last month we handed AIG $30 Billion and we are not asking what they did with 99.9% of it, but are screaming bloody murder about what they did with 0.1% of it. No one seems to have asked what they did with $29.835 Billion of taxpayer money or what they are going to do with another $30 Billion which we will give them later this month. Another $750 Billion is in the works to “remove toxic assets” from the books of firms like AIG, and some $3 Trillion has been committed to guarantee debts of even more.

When a small, very small, tempest erupted about earmarks in the omnibus spending bill one of the defenses was that it was a very small part of the total amount. It was 1.9% of that total. Of the hundreds of billions of dollars that have been thrown at the financial industry, and are still being thrown their way, $165 Million is a tiny fraction of 1%, something like 0.00001% or so. The tempest over the earmarks died down in minutes, and this storm of outrage has gone on for days and days.

Get over it and move on. We have serious business to do.

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