Mar 16, 2009

Well Maybe...

The Cat Daddy thinks I should publish a retraction of my earlier post on President Obama, specifically this paragraph--

"...While I don't think he'll turn the US into a socialist nation in 4 years, I do think that under him we will pay more taxes and there will be little snippets of socialism popping up. Which could lead to increasing socialistic patterns, which in some ways sounds really good, but in the end I don't think it's the right path for the US."

Now that I've gone back & read it, I still stand by it. Not that there's much to stand by. I don't know a whole lot about national policy so I haven't exactly made any strong statements either way. Still, I don't think the US will be a socialist nation by 2012. I must admit, though, that the changes being made in these few months are bigger than I expected.

Our discussion was started by an
article I skimmed about the president vowing to block bonuses for AIG execs. I thought it was pretty brazen of AIG to use bailout money on executive bonuses, but the Cat Daddy brought up an interesting point that the bonuses were contractual, so to not pay the bonuses could be considered breaking a contract. And then we both talked in circles a bit about whether a contractual bonus is truly a bonus, and why don't they just include it in the salary, and so on (Taxes? Anyone know?). I had to agree that I'd be pretty torqued if I'd been promised a certain amount of pay, only to have it taken away...but then this is government bailout money, so maybe the government does have more of a say in how the company spends it.

Oh but THEN that leads to a whole other crop of issues. To start with, lots of businesses get government money in some form. And how much control should the government have over the money it gives out in federal programs & whatnot? Should it be allowed to go in & set limits on bonuses, or even salaries? And if so, who would determine what reasonable limits would be, and how would they go about it?

That's all to say that the more the government gets involved, the more the boundaries get blurred, and in the Cat Daddy's words, it becomes a "slippery slope." It's hard for me to reconcile helping needy people with government involvement. But does a big company fall under the umbrella of "needy?" I wouldn't think so...but then if a giant company tanked, the employees might then become needy, so do you bail out the company to prevent the massive job-losses? Apparently this time, yes. And anyway, I'm all for helping people who need it, but I think it's really, really important to give them the kind of help that is really helpful, instead of the kind of help that helps them to stay in their rut. You know, teaching a man to fish and all that.

It's kind of like the parents whose kid keeps getting into trouble, but they keep bailing him out, so he has no motivation to stop getting in trouble. Or, one of my favorite Cloud & Townsend illustrations--the guy who doesn't water his lawn, but the water from the neighbor's sprinkler falls on it & keeps it nice & green, so he looks out and thinks "My yard is doing fine." Meanwhile, despite running the sprinkler faithfully the neighbor's yard is dying because he's watering everywhere but his own yard. I wonder, had the government not given AIG a bailout package, if the execs would still be getting the big bonuses. Not that simple, I know. Believe me, I know...

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