Why bring this up now? In light of the AIG bonus flap (one of Congress' making), it seemed that some words of caution be used to explain why Congress has got it all wrong. Though bonuses paid out by AIG may not have been the smartest or most ethical thing they could have done, it was legal and justifiable. But that's beside the point.
What it comes down to is you don't punish the innocent along with the guilty. Not that it seems to matter to Congress, the MSM, and the aggrieved taxpayers. All they talk about is how corporate greed by AIG caused this problem.
They are totally wrong.
For one thing, the employment contracts required that bonuses be paid. No one, not even Congress, can get away with breaking a legally binding contract without consequence. AIG, and perhaps Congress, would have been dragged into court for breach of contract by those employees that had nothing to do with the failure of AIG's division handling the default credit swaps that put them $120 billion in the hole. AIG's other divisions are still bringing in billions, performing well despite the meltdown in the housing market and the resulting mortgage defaults, but executives in those divisions are being targeted as well.
The purpose of this tax is a work around to the contracts that were legally binding and also approved by Congress and the President. However, it targets a extremely small, politically despised, group of people and takes away their money that they were legally entitled to. Is this not the same as Congress finding them guilty without the benefit of a jury trial and simply instituting a fine on their earnings, albeit called a “tax”. A rose by any other name and all of that…
This sound eerily familiar, doesn't it? Oh, wait! Of course! It comes back to Atlas Shrugged...again.
Some quotes from Atlas Shrugged illustrates just how wrong Congress, the MSM, and many of the less understanding or less informed taxpayers are when it comes to pay, bonuses, and compensation for one's hard work. The excerpts below are from Francisco D'Anconia's speech about money and its worth.
"Have you ever looked for the root of production? Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions--and you'll learn that man's mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth.”
"But you say that money is made by the strong at the expense of the weak? What strength do you mean? It is not the strength of guns or muscles. Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think. Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it? Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools? By the able at the expense of the incompetent? By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy? Money is made--before it can be looted or mooched--made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can't consume more than he has produced.”
"But money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. It will give you the means for the satisfaction of your desires, but it will not provide you with desires. Money is the scourge of the men who attempt to reverse the law of causality--the men who seek to replace the mind by seizing the products of the mind.”
"Let me give you a tip on a clue to men's characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it.”
"Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another--their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun.”
“Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion--when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing--when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors--when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you--when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice--you may know that your society is doomed.”
Are we to that point yet? No, but we're close to reaching it. If we let Congress and President Obama carry through with their plans for the economy, including tightly regulating the creation and legal transfers of wealth for goods and services, then we as a nation are doomed to servitude and privation.