Monday, March 02, 2009

Holding executives responsible

Matt Yglesias want's a pound of cash from AIG executives and he makes a good point,
The whole idea of the insurance industry is that if I buy insurance from you, you pay off the claims. Absent ability to pay claims, there’s no business there at all. It’s just fraud. Whether or not it meets the legal standard for fraud, I couldn’t say. But in ordinary language sense, it’s a fraud—you’re selling a service you have no capacity to deliver. And AIG executives made a bunch of money engaged in it. Felix Salmon says: “I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Hank Greenberg was still a billionaire, even as the policies his company wrote have cost the average American household some $1,600. It’s time for his wealth to be confiscated: it might be only a drop in the bucket compared to AIG’s total losses, but it would feel very right.”

I don’t think it would just feel right, it would be right. Thus far, there’s been an extraordinary aversion to actually punishing any of the people responsible. It’s true that most of them are less rich than they once were, but they’re still far richer than most people. And it shouldn’t be that wrecking your company and wrecking the world economy is a good way to become richer than most people.
This new found aversion we seemed to have with accountability and responsibility is just bizarre. A handful or people have literally looted the Western economy and we seem obsessed not only with refusing to hold them accountable, but with also keeping them in place.

Why?

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