The allusions to Atlas Shrugged in the mainstream media are just getting better and better. From the new Bloomberg article “Obama Needs AIGâ??s Liddy, Not Other Way Around,” by Caroline Baum:
The hero of Ayn Randâ??s Atlas Shrugged is smiling because heâ??s seen it all before: the governmentâ??s intervention in the private sector; the constraints placed on business in the name of the people; the desperation on the part of government bureaucrats when they realize their leverage is limited; and — this part is still fiction — the decision on the part of business leaders to walk away from the enterprises they built.
Thatâ??s all I could think about when I read that American International Group Inc., recipient of $173 billion in taxpayer funds, was paying out $165 million in bonuses to employees of its financial-products group, the poster boy for risk and greed.
The Obama administration, Congress and the public are outraged taxpayer dollars are going to enrich the folks who got us into this mess. So am I.
Members of Congress want to blame Edward Liddy, the former chief executive officer of Allstate Corp., who was recruited by former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson in September to steer AIG away from the shoals.
Liddy is paid $1 a year for his efforts. â??My only stake is my reputation,â? Liddy said in a March 16 open letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
His only crime, as far as I can tell, is inheriting compensation contracts providing for retention bonuses for certain AIG derivative traders, some of whom have left the company, and listening to lawyers on his options.
See the full article for much more on the parallels between Atlas Shrugged and the current crisis.