I am in the habit of checking my e-mail before I go to bed each night. I am not sure why I do this, since it is not a habit that leads to more or better sleep. Yet, I do it anyway. And, sometimes while I am online anyway, I will scoot over to the New York Times front page to see what I can see.
Last night what I saw was that the Taxpayers of the United States will be loaning American International Group $85,000,000,000. (Just as an aside, I never got the e-mail asking me if this was alright---did any of you other taxpayers get that e-mail?)
I understand that the health of the entire world economy was at stake if AIG were to be allowed to slip into bankruptcy. Really, I do. But I couldn’t help but wonder what the difference is between individuals who entered into mortgages and other loans without really thinking through the consequences of a rise in interest rates and the mega-corporations who based much of their business on risky financial instruments without really thinking through the consequences of a rise in interest rates.
There is not much government support for families who may lose their homes. In fact, I hear many on the right say that homeowner bailouts will just reward bad behavior by borrowers. Yet I have not heard anyone speak out against rewarding AIG’s bad behavior.
If I had gotten the e-mail asking if it was okay with me if the government used my tax money to prop up AIG I probably would have agreed, but with a caveat. I would have demanded that for every dollar being diverted from government coffers to AIG, a dollar should also be diverted to help homeowners keep their homes.
Without this caveat, it seems to me that the government of the United States it saying loudly and clearly that corporations are far more important than individual homeowners and families.
UPDATE: in the interest of fairness I need to point out that many Republican lawmakers have spoken out in the last few hours about the unfairness of the AIG bailout.