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What About the Other $169,835,000,000?

I’ve been getting more and more annoyed as the AIG bonus scandal has cranked up into a hysterical tornado of indignant politicians performing before the similarly self-indulgent press corp.  Let’s take a step back and look at what’s happened so far.

  • The government has handed over $170 billion to AIG.  That’s $170,000,000,000.
  • Less than .1% of that amount was used to pay bonuses to people who didn’t really deserve it.  That’s $165,000,000.  (notice how that number has three fewer zeroes than the previous bullet point).

How much ink has been spilled, how much hot air has been puffed, how many chests have been beaten, how many cries of outrage have been raised over this .1%?  Don’t they feel even a little bit silly as they perform for the cameras (or point the cameras)?

I think that the powers-that-be are terrified of being lynched by a hysterical mob, so they’re joining the mob and abdicating their moral authority to the mob.  President Obama is not immune – he lit his torch and jumped into the mob yesterday, saying that he directed Mr. Geithner to find a legal way “to block these bonuses and make the American taxpayers whole.”

And what about our own Representative Barney Frank – he thinks  “the federal government has to take the lead on the lawsuits. ”  Lawsuits?  Really?  How big are the bonuses you’re going to sue for?  Are you going after some of the $100,000 bonuses – the ones paid for with the $170,000,000,000?

I wish that the government and the press cared about the big picture.  I wish they were tracking the $170,000,000,000.  Unfortunately, we’re not going to get it.  We’re going to get days of hot air and breathless reports as a few pennies come trickling back to the government.   The remaining 99.9% of the budget is going to sail off into the night, unnoticed and unmonitored.

Call your rep.  Call your senator.  Call the President.  Write your favorite newspaper and email your favorite blogger.  Ask them: What about the other $169,835,000,000?


Comment from Josh
Time: March 20, 2009, 10:19 pm

Comment from dunster
Time: March 20, 2009, 11:05 pm

He said it better than I did.