Skip to comments.A Living, Breathing Document or, The Messiah and the Money-Changers
Posted on 03/19/2009 6:55:39 PM PDT by grey_whiskers
The Big Story over the past couple of news cycles seems to be the uproar over the bonus payments to some members of the Wall Street crowd. Wall Street has had a long history of paying bonuses, but times are different. In particular, for companies which have not only experienced EPIC FAIL, but have threatened the stability of the global financial system, why should anyone receive bonuses? Indeed, the question is a powerful one, fanned by all of the class-envy that Democrats can muster. Consider some of the following quotes from leading Democrats on this matter:
"This is disgraceful, this is unacceptable and this is an offense to millions of hard working Americans whose tax dollars are the only reason AIG continues to exist. We intend to do everything in our power to prevent those payments from being paid and recoup the money that has already been paid. If you don't return it on your own we will do it for you." Sen. Chuck Schumer (GunGrabber, NY)
Charles Grassley (Harakiri, IA) said in a radio interview on Monday he would feel better if AIG's top managers were to "take that deep bow and say 'I'm sorry' and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide."
Senator Jon Tester (Who?, MT) said that the executives"need to understand that the only reason they even have a job is because of the taxpayers." Way to overlook your own position there, Jon.
Still, not all of the Democrats are Jonny-Come-Latelies.
Barney Frank (Lollipop-MA) has been on the warpath about bonuses for years. Here he is quoted in The New York Magazine in 2005:
"Its not simply the offensiveness. Bonuses distort the system. They give perverse incentives. Your bonus depends on your company meeting certain short-term targets; thats when we get into these accounting fusses because you play games. Im now convinced that accounting practices in derivatives range between astrology and alchemy. If I do the accounting one way, I get a bonus, and if I do it another way, I dont. Well, that shouldnt be there."
Barney, maybe you shouldn't be the one to bring up perverse incentives, hmmm? Especially given your illicit liaisons with Herb Moses of Fannie Mae.
In the meantime, the proposed payment of the bonuses is threatening to make the Obama administration look bad -- as though they needed any help. Part of the reason the bonuses were approved was that they were included in the "Stimulus" bill which was rushed through with less than 24-hours notice.
In the meantime the firestorm continues unababated, with armed guards being posted at some AIG offices and employees receiving death threats including such gems as "They should be hung from piano wire."
Given such a political opportunity for hypocrisy, few Democrats can resist. They are feverishly working on a bill to reclaim most of the money in bonuses -- money which was contractually agreed to long before the Federal bailout; money which is maybe 1/10 of 1% of the amount of the funds paid to AIG by the government.
For example, Democratic Representative Gary Peters' (N00B - MI) bill, for instance, would put a 60 percent tax on bonuses over $10,000 at any company in which the government has a 79 percent or greater equity stake. It now holds about 80 percent of AIG. The special tax would be in addition to the top 35 percent income tax rate plus state and local taxes, making it possible to recover 100 percent of the bonuses, Peters said.
The Obamamessiah (President Elect and Teleprompter) has encouraged these bills on the part of Congress, saying that the vote "rightly reflects" outrage over the bonus payments. It almost reminds one of when the *real* Messiah threw out the Money Changers (Matthew 21:13). However, given the disclosure by Christopher Dodd (Irish Cottage - CT) that Obama officials pressured him into putting the bonus language into the bill, the parable of the money changers has lost something in the translation. Instead of saying, "It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves", the new saying is more like "The Congress shall be a House of Pork and Greed; but you bankers are taking too much for yourselves!"
So why am I so concerned? Surely the executive are greedy bastards, who shouldn't be rewarded for running the company and so much of the economy into the ground, right? Exactly. Except for one little detail. The Congress has no Constitutional authority to punish people. And there is such a thing as a Bill of Attainder (punishing someone by a legislative fine without trial). It is explicitly forbidden by the Constitution.
And ex-post-facto punishment...that's unconstitutional too, right? Well, not exactly. In the case of taxation, retroactive taxation has been OK'd by the Supreme Court, Rulers of These United Metrosexual States (SCROTUMS). See for example United States vs. Carlton.
In other words, yes, the United States Constitution may still be a living, breathing document. But given the moronic way Congress has been acting, can brain death be far behind?
NO cheers, unfortunately.
And ex-post-facto punishment...that's unconstitutional too, right? Well, not exactly. In the case of taxation, retroactive taxation has been OK'd by the Supreme Court, Rulers of These United Metrosexual States (SCROTUMS). See for example United States vs. Carlton. In other words, yes, the United States Constitution may still be a living, breathing document. But given the moronic way Congress has been acting, can brain death be far behind?Thanks grey_whiskers.