Thursday, March 19, 2009

AIG Bonuses Highlight Divide

The mere fact that these AIG bonuses were allowed to go through highlights the divide between those that are entitled and those of us who feel we need to work for a living while nothing is guaranteed. But, AIG who received over 170 billion dollars in bailout money thought it was fine (or maybe more likely didn't care what we thought) to give out millions in bonuses, though they screwed the American people. And politicians ok'd this. They had the chance to stop the bonuses with provisions in TARP money or the stimulus package and they chose not to do so. Maybe they thought it was unnecessary, but I doubt it.

While at the same time bailout money for the auto makers required these companies to shut down plants, lay-off workers and re-negotiate contracts with the auto workers who god forbid were not living in poverty. This highlights just how far the American worker has fallen and how far we have gone to allow financiers to control, leverage and destroy our economy while we sit with a cup in our hands for unemployment, foodstamps, increases in TANF assistance, student loan bailouts, etc. Even the Obama administration (who I like) have tried to shift this argument, maybe to push for true regulation (a good thing) or to relieve themselves of their own responsibility in this fiasco.

Today in France, in solidarity for one another a nation wide strike is occurring (can you imagine). Unions are opposing President Sarkozy's economic policies. 2 million are unemployed (we have over 5.5 million at least) and more lay-offs are expected. Schools are closed and public transport is being disrupted, with demonstrations organized in about 200 towns.

From the Guardian: Union members marched towards Nation in Paris behind a banner that read: "United against the crisis, defend employment, spending power and public services."
Police said there were about 85,000 people at the rally, according to the AFP news agency.
"They have a profound sense of social injustice, and that, I think, is something that neither the government nor the employers have understood," said Jean-Claude Mailly, head of the large Force Ouvriere union.
Recent polls show over 75% of the French support the strikers. Now, let me tell you I was there during a strike in France and it ain't easy. But, what is heartening, truly heartening is the unions, workers and regular people have a seat at the table of negotiations. We have none. That has to change. Here is pushing for EFCA fast. Of course, we have to beg for a vote on it and now Obama is chickening out. When will things change? When we get off our asses and demand it.

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