Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Put Them All In Jail

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Days after it got a federal bailout, American International Group Inc. spent $440,000 on a posh California retreat for its executives, complete with spa treatments, banquets and golf outings, according to lawmakers investigating the company's meltdown.

AIG sent its executives to the coastal St. Regis resort south of Los Angeles, California, even as the company tapped into an $85 billion loan from the government it needed to stave off bankruptcy.

The resort tab included $23,380 worth of spa treatments for AIG employees, according to invoices the resort turned over to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
There's a reason we put criminals in jail. Because if we let them free without punishment, the odds are that they will continue to commit crimes. This is the basic premise of law enforcement. The threat of jail time (and the inevitable male rape that follows) is enough to make would-be criminals think twice about breaking the law.

The folks at AIG took money for insurance policies that they never dreamed would be paid out. They thought there was no way there would ever be massive mortgage defaults, the only scenario that would require them to pay the banks and lenders that bought the policies. Since AIG thought there was no chance that they'd ever have to pay, they treated the money they received as pure profit. They spent it on themselves: lavish bonuses, expense accounts... posh California retreats. Even though their policies promised that they'd pay banks and lenders money if mortgages went bad... they never planned for that event to ever happen. But it did. And the money they had promised to pay was no longer there. The executives had spent it all.

There's a name for someone who takes money that isn't theirs. Criminal.

These people should be thrown in jail. Embezzlement, mail fraud, jaywalking-- whatever sticks. Criminals should be punished for their crimes... not given $85 billion dollars so they can continue to throw parties for themselves.

Unfortunately, Congress continues to treat these executives as innocent bystanders, victimized by Joe Six-Packs who couldn't pay their mortgages. Make no mistake, the $700 billion dollar bailout didn't fail the first time on the House floor because it gave too much to executives. It failed the first time because it DIDN'T GIVE ENOUGH MONEY TO MEMBERS OF CONGRESS. Once the pork was added, the bill sailed through.

Until the criminals who compounded this crisis are brought to justice, they will continue the pattern of corporate irresponsibility that led to our nation's financial problems in the first place.

Unfortunately, Congress is holding hearings... when they should be demanding trials.

But what do you expect when criminals are running our government?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Google Saves Drunken E-mailers

I admit, I've sent some regrettable e-mails. You have too. Sometimes, it's just because we were emotional at the time. Most likely-- especially now that we have email on our portable iPhones and Crackberries-- we were drunk.

The folks at Google feel our pain. Or rather, they want to spare us the pain of sending a drunken email that will later come back to haunt us:

"Yeah, um, boss... about that email I sent on Saturday at 3:00 am... just kidding, I don't want to quit. And I meant to call someone else a weasel."

World, meet Mail Goggles. Turn this feature on, and every time you try and send an email late at night on a weekend, Google will present you with a few math problems to solve before it sends. The logic being-- if you're in the right frame of mind to do math, then you're in the right frame of mind to send an email:

Math Will Sober You Up Right Quick
See, your teachers were right! Math isn't useless.

Of course, Mail Goggles isn't for everyone. For instance, those bad at elementary school math. And those with Arithmophobia: you're already drunk... adding blood-curdling numbers to the mix can only make your state of mind worse.

But for the rest of us, Mail Goggles can be a very useful tool. Why not extend mind-engaging academic tests to protect us from other erroneous communication? Solve a crossword before you can send that late night "What You Up To?!?" text message to your ex. Name the 12th U.S. President before drunk dialing. Analyze the use of allegory in Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" before writing on your crush's Facebook wall during a Saturday pre-dawn bender.

Imagine. Suddenly, there would be a purpose to grade school: preventing us from making asses of ourselves.

Which, apparently, was the original purpose of grade school.

Danica McKellar
Maybe The Wonder Years' Chick Is On To Something

Anyways, the Jewish holiday I'm-Sorry-Fest of Yom Kippur is happening this week, so if you have sent a regrettable email, now's the time to apologize, beg forgiveness and repent. Cause even if you're not Jewish, you want to be sure you've got your bases covered, right?

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some math to study up on. I don't want to be stuck if I have to send an email this weekend.

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