Misdirected AngerMar 27th, 2009 | By Mike Courson | Category: Columns, Opinions
The economy. As if we have not heard enough about the economy. Well, we may not have heard enough. Or, in the least, we are not hearing the right things.
The Obama administration has a tremendous task on its hands: to correct decades worth of bad governmental policy and greedy business policy.
Who has been looking out for all of us all along? Obviously not big business, and certainly not our elected officials.
This week, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner testified in front of the grandstanding congressmen that make up the House Financial Services Committee. While accountability now is more important than ever, let’s stop pretending these congressmen are respectable men and women with our best interests at heart.
To begin with, one of the big outrages in the past two weeks is the AIG bonus situation. Granted, it is despicable that these lowly businessmen get any money at all, especially even a penny of money you and I earned and paid our corrupt government. But, really? 150 million is what finally breaks things open?
The 2009 salary of a rank and file congressman/senator is $174,000. Not even counting the massive House, let’s do the math on the Senate alone.
A six-year term, times 100 senators, equals over $104 million. Unlike the executives at AIG, these men and women were elected specifically to help us. Have they succeeded? Only at lining their own pockets.
Not only are congressmen pulling down prime salaries, but Newsweek reports that some of that bailout money is being funneled right back to the politicians as campaign contributions.
Bank of America has paid out over $24,000, and Citigroup over $29,000. Again, our congress is proving it looks out for itself, not the people. Blame AIG, but those executives did not have the ability to read and negate the original legislation did.
Our congress, however, did, and they chose not to. Both are profiting, but I see only one body of white men grandstanding their morality.
Secondly, we must stop pretending that insurance is good. Period.
AIG is an insurance company. What exactly do insurance companies insure? When is the last time anyone felt good about insuring themselves or something he/she owns?
With jobs falling like prices and principles at Wal-Mart, the news constantly tells us to make sure we stay insured. Is insurance not one of the reasons we are where we are today?
The company for which I work handles retirement plans. We are directly related to the market. Recently, we had to take a pay cut. It came to light that this company spends about $2 million each year on health insurance for its 500 employees. $4,000 for each man and woman employee.
Wouldn’t the company be better off investing that money in my physician? Instead, I cannot go to the doctor when I get sick because I have no co-pay. I cannot get an x-ray for months when I think my hand is broken. I paid nearly $300 for an eye injury I suffered while merely riding my bicycle.
For $4,000, I could have had all of these items taken care of, and still had some spending money. Instead, I am out my monthly due and often do not get the help I need.
Furthermore, if not for that insurance company, those doctors would not have to charge three to eight times what they should be charging anyway. The doctor charges the insured patient $70 because he knows the insurance company will only pay half. The doctor is content with the difference. The un-insured, however—the ones who probably struggle the most financially, are forced to pay the entire inflated amount.
Finally, there are the banks. The banks have been getting us all along. The easiest example: I have excellent credit and got the “best” interest rate on a vehicle. This 8 percent interest quickly turns into 50 percent when I end up paying $24,000 on a $16,000 vehicle over the course of six years.
Furthermore, I bought a house several years ago. It’s roughly double the price of my car, and my monthly payments are nearly the same. Logic dictates a 12 year note (let’s even say 15 to be generous to those poor banks). But is my home loan a 15 year note? Nay. Try 30 years. In that extra 15 years, I will have paid an extra $57,000 towards my home—nearly twice the original purchase price on top of the same amount already paid in the first 15 years.
I do not know who is more to blame. We ourselves elect our government that serves business instead of us. Heck, we even work for some of those companies. Our media knows about all of this, but has pushed it under the rug for decades. Instead, they get us angry about toy issues: bonuses, hot-button issues, cute issues (yeah, yeah Dora the Explorer now has a tween version…why did I hear that on CNN?).
Fortunately, we have a president who wants to make some changes. He’s told every day that he cannot change it all. That’s true, and I’m sure Obama knows it. But what is the alternative? The alternative is the American bureaucracy that has existed since 1777. Keeping with that system is the best way to get nothing accomplished.