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Ban the AIG bonuses? No, ban the BAILOUT

It's not exactly about television, but...

Aig If you wonder why the U.S. stock market now resembles a blue-light special at Kmart, look no farther than the churlish reaction to the news that insurance company AIG paid a piddling $165 million in bonuses to its employees earlier this month. Call me naive, but I agree with AIG boss Edward M. Liddy when he says his guys are ``the best and the brightest.''

They work for a company that's gambled in the securities market like a Vegas drunk, with about the same luck, and has admitted to writing its financial statements with the creative flair of a Stephen King novel. Yet they've nonetheless talked the U.S. government into bailing it out four times in six months.

And we're not just talking about fleecing that universallyacclaimed-as-dumber-than-a-rock George W. Bush, either. Three weeks ago, AIG scored again off the smartest man in the known universe, Barack Obama, whose government not only forked over another $30 billion but agreed to new terms that essentially mean AIG can pay the money back in buffalo dung.

In case you've lost count, that means AIG has extracted $180 billion from Washington in the past six months. Are we going to quibble about a 1 percent sales commission on a deal like that? Those guys could sell hurricane insurance in the Gobi desert -- I'd want them working for me any day. Luckily, they are; taxpayers now own 80 percent of AIG. Read the rest of my Miami Herald op-ed piece.

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