Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Naming Names:

As a libertarian I am against these bailouts in principle. But if government does give bailout $$, then all bets are off and we don't live in a free market world. It's like when bankruptcy law supersedes contract law. Likewise getting government bailout $$ takes us out of the free market world and puts us somewhere else where a different set of rules apply. And I quite frankly am more uncomfortable in that world than in free market world.

Government has every right to attach strings to bailout aid. But government is likely to mess things up royally with the rules that attach. I have no problem with Bill Gates making millions a year and acquiring billions in personal worth as long as Microsoft keeps making profits and gets no bailout money. But there is something sickening about a business being driven into the ground, getting government bailout $$ and then rewarding their executives with millions of dollars in bonuses. For that reason I have no problem with President Obama's $500,000 a year cap on payout to executives who take significant TARP $$. But I also agree that this could have unintended negative consequences, as could government trying to force AIG execs. to "give back" their bonuses to which they have a contractual right. I just saw Sen. Schumer say that if the execs. don't voluntarily give the money back, he willl see to it that all of it gets taxed. Perhaps he reads Balkinization.

Now, I'm not going to go as far as Sen. Grassley and say that the executives should kill themselves. Even Sen. Schumer's idea is too much government coercion for me. But I do think is a good idea to find out who these people are and how much money they get. I have heard Sen. Schumer and NY AG Cuomo call for disclosure of names. But I'm surprised that we can't figure out who these folks are through independent reporting. You can find the names of all of the board of directors of AIG here. It's amazing what you can find on the web these days.

Once we find out who they are, shame them into giving the money back. Send out the Bill O'Reilly and C and MSNBC reporters after their ass, get the cameras in their faces and harass them (non-violently, of course). I prefer that to government trying to find some way to undo the contracts. Then write a new law that would prevent this outrage from occurring again.

Update: On second thought, maybe enough is being done already.

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