And this is the part that rips me about this massive bailout. Here we have the executives of AIG, men who were so reckless and incompetent that they absolutely buried their company. They took other people’s money and became regular addicts of casino capitalism. They then lost the other people’s money…but not their own. They have plenty. (Disclosure: I have an AIG retirement account from a previous job).
In fact, they were so incompetent/corrupt that it took a government bailout of billions of dollars to save the company. You would think, considering that the taxpayers bailed out this giant corporation at considerable expense and risk, that the executives would be diligently working to restore the integrity of their company and ensure that such a financial fiasco never happens again.
Quite frankly, I would think that the executives would have been forced out of the boardrooms with no assets but the tattered remains of the Versace suits they happened to be wearing when they ran through the gauntlet of angry taxpayers and investors. But that’s just me.
Unfortunately, neither of the above happened.
Instead, AIG executives were busy…taking a vacation…in England…quail hunting. I’m sure they’ve been under a lot of stress lately…with the market and all…and they needed to let off some steam. And the best way to let off steam if you are not stealing money is to shoot little, fuzzy birds. The expedition cost over $80,000. Last month AIG was scolded for spending $500,000 for executives at a California resort.
So let’s get a recap here. While you and I are out there, working multiple jobs, scrambling to put a little money away because we don’t know how secure our jobs are, these incompetent corporate executives were living large on the English country side, wearing tweed and enjoying a spot of tea!
Obviously they are not worried. According to the New York Daily News, AIG executive Alvaro Mengotti’s advice for riding out the crisis–invest in gold. If they were worried they would be scrambling as much as the rest of us are. But no. What do they have to worry about. They know that they are too big to fail. They know that the worst case scenario for them is that they run their business into the ground and still get to keep their jobs, income, assets and benefits. If, by chance they lose their jobs they get an obnoxiously lucrative severance package. And if AIG goes under, they will be the first to know about it and they will cover their assets while their clients lose everything.
According to AIG spokesman Joe Norton “AIG’s priority is to continue to focus on maximizing the value of the business so we can repay the federal reserve loan.” (New York Dailey News, 10/15/08) I guess that’s why they cancelled a trip to the spa.
RACE IN DRUG LAWS AND ENFORCEMENT.Racism has been built into the Drug Laws and penal system in the U.S. Studies have shown that mitroajy of people who use and sell drugs, particularly in New York State and across the nation are white. However, African Americans and Latinos comprise about 91% of drug offenders in New York; specifically, 57% Black, 33% Hispanic, and 8% White of a total population of the roughly 14,000 people locked up in New York State alone for drug offenses (Rockefeller). These trends demonstrate how race is culturally constructed to support the power structure of America. Racialization has been part of the foundation in the nature of the drug laws.Political America chooses to face crime and drug use indirectly. Drug abuse is seen as a cause of social problems, not a product of socio- environmental dereliction, I dare say, because it’s easier to blame minorities. From the beginning of drug legislation we have blamed minorities and their culture for posing a threat to pure American culture. The restriction on opium dens in a California Ordinance in 1875 made Opium dens, run by Chinese immigrants and made fashionable by segments of the white population illegal, beginning the racial scapegoating (Hamowy, 12). Opiates were considered a “loathsome oriental vice” exposing White Americans to danger (Hamowy, 13). What Orientals themselves did was of minor concern. On a side note, Opiates would have to be imported, which could create an addictive foreign commodity, like oil. The Harrison Act of 1914 was the next step in a series of ill- intended, restricting laws that turned drugs into controlled substances. It was passed in part out of fear that cocaine- crazed blacks posed a threat to white society (Youngquist, 90). This notion of a “threat” supports the U.S. imperial, superior moral obligations cause because while drug abuse is a purely relative term, it is subject to a host of social presuppositions, when associated with immigrant groups (p16Dealing). Marijuana was linked with Mexican immigrant abuse and crime because Mexican workers were replacing whites in farm labor (Youngquist, 90). This led to first, the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 and later it’s illegality all together. The movement to limit access to those drugs introduced by immigrants instigated anti- minority sentiment, not concern for their addictive properties. America, politically, can’t accept that drugs are here to stay. In 1973, Gov. Rockefeller signs the country’s most stringent mandatory- sentencing laws for drug offenses, producing the opening statistics (Rockefeller).Policy makers naively point blame at the dirty habits of minority groups rather than approach drug use as a public health concern. Racialization has been institutionalized in U.S. drug policy, established and enforced by people outside the exploited races. This institutionalized racism exists beyond individual consciousness. Within this racialized system of Drug enforcement policy, an individual’s social life and his or her chances against the institution depend on the physical characteristics assumed to his or her race. Its unfortunate too, because a disproportionate number of black men within five- million felons will loose the right to vote because of these racialized, often flimsy convictions (Los).Hamowy, Ronald. Dealing with Drugs. San Francisco: Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, 1993.Los Angeles Times Let Felons Vote 29 Oct 2008.Paul Youngquist. “Score, Scan, Schiz: Dick on Drugs.” Cultural Critique. 44. (2000): 87- 107.Rockefeller Drug Laws: Q & A. 2008. Drug Policy Allience. 3 October 2008