Tuesday, March 17, 2009
AIG On Our Faces
Much as I find it disturbing that AIG execs will get $165 million in bonuses after helping to screw the planet, I find the reaction much more worrisome. It goes to the point of a recent post, about how our brains work: given complexities, we reach for the simple. And simple, permuted through Congress and perverted by the right-wing screamers, can be dangerous.
Should those crooks get boni? No. Is it a big deal, percentage-wise? Not really. Can it be made to imply the Obama plan is faulty, even though the money in question came before his election? You betcha. Will it? Does a bear sh*t on the Pope?
On 60 Minutes Ben Bernanke said his only worry is whether we have the political will to do what's necessary to fix the economy. Mine, too. Given the commitment to fomenting failure we see from all quarters on the right, and given their willingness to say anything, including lying and distorting, quitting before the finish line is a real possibility.
For example: seizing on a couple of phrases, ignoring context in one case, and outright lying in another, it's being hyped that Obama people are saying, McCain-like, that the fundamentals of our economy are strong. It's hypocrisy, they suggest. He's a political hack, they imply.
So we have our simple little brains, which crave simple little answers, and we have simple little people in Congress and self-interested simple-minded screamers behind them only too happy to provide. In a sea of scary, the AIG bonuses represent an island of idiocy, perfect substrate on which to grow reactionary resentment. Populist rage, cynically manipulated by right-wingers desperate for power, might well lead to the failure of the thing the populace most needs. What's a good word for that?