Friday, March 20, 2009

Taking the Biscuit

The current global financial crisis has thrown up so many examples of how morally bankrupt, if not financially bankrupt, our financial institutions have become. I have referred previously to the outrage in the UK about bailed-out banks continuing to pay staff bonuses and the ongoing "disquiet" about Fred Goodwin's pension. I think in the USA public unhappiness about the bail-outs is all the more palpable because it seems such an "un-American" thing to do.

It is perhaps ironic, then, that probably the worst example of a rescued financial institution, to use the vernacular, "taking the piss" is in the United States. According to this article in the New York Times, the insurance company AIG, which is already under fire from Congress over executive bonuses, is quietly suing the American Government for the return of $306 million in tax payments! This is the same AIG in which the government has an 80 percent stake and into which it has poured nearly $200 billion in an attempt to avert its collapse. Even more incredibly, it appears that AIG is spending taxpayers' money to pursue its case, something it is legally entitled to do!

Words fail me...