Saturday, March 21, 2009

aig+ or what we forgot to tell indians before they signed the treaty
i remain somewhat tongue-tied in response to the depression. I don’t have stocks or 401k’s to see plummet. i don’t have an employer to tank along with my job. i mostly have clients who are made even poorer by the trickledown. i do remain amazed by the absolute lack of shame shown by rich folks and their media and corporate manifestations. one of these causes me to talk a bit - the claim that the aig bonuses are untouchable.
if there is any simple lesson of the day to day practice of the law it is that the written law whether from statutes, constitutions, administrative rules or judicial opinions is ultimately only words. The day to day working of courts and systems affected by the written law require working near it but not following it literally. it is the background music, but not necessarily the theme.
i work mostly within the criminal law court systems. there regularly procedural niceties are ignored and plea bargains made. defendants do not receive the absolutes of constitutional and statutory protections. law enforcement is not allowed to arrest people knowing that they will be punished exactly in keeping with the written law. lawyers and judges find they can occasionally use the written law as the basis for their position and actions. but we all gain something from acknowledging that the written law is only as good as the situation allows.
so perhaps its not surprising that i cringe when i hear the claim that the contracts between a corporation and it’s resident malfeasors to pay them a so-called bonus in spite of their lack of performance trumps all. the lawyers who gave this advice and the clients who accepted it are basically all foolish. for them and anyone who cares to dabble in legal yacking, i recommend a times oped thing in which a professorial type sets out the various things they didn’t think of: A.I.G.’s Bonus Blackmail.
there’s another theory i’ve seen mentioned. these people need to be kept around because they’re the only ones capable of declawing their own monstrous creations. making this the basis of these people’s future would at least add a little truth to the farce. if i was their lawyer, i might suggest that a lotta mea culpa and return of the bonuses might allow them to become part of the cure with whatever benefits accrue to their souls and maybe pocketbooks. unfortunately they’ll probably ask ‘what would rush do?’ and ignore my advice.

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