The One Thing today comes to us courtesy of a Thomas Jefferson quote: "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock."
The only time it's worth fighting for your principles is when everyone else is trying to convince you that they no longer apply. And congressional outrage over these AIG executive bonuses is a great example.
Neither party is actually trying to solve the problem. They're simply trying to channel the outrage away from their roles and instead direct it toward the faceless bonus recipients.
Ask yourself: Are your principles and -- just as important -- the rule of law, important enough to not be trounced by fake populist anger?
I want to be clear: I don't like the idea of a failed business paying bonuses and I think those who broke the law should go to jail. But I really don't like the idea that we are willing to give in to mob rule by attempting to void legally binding contracts.
In other words, just like protecting free speech, it matters the most when it's the hardest to do.
Take double jeopardy, for instance. Let's say a triple-murder suspect is found not guilty; he walks out onto the steps of the courthouse and he says, "You guys screwed up. I not only did it, I enjoyed it."
There's not a person in America who wouldn't be so angry that they'd want to create an exception to double jeopardy and put the dirtbag in prison. And that's exactly why we can't. Our principles and our rule of law have to trump the emotion of the day.
But what's happening with AIG? Our supposed leaders are trampling each other to see who can abuse their power the fastest. That is exactly what our founding founders were afraid of and it's why this is a dangerous precedent: If contracts have no meaning, then the whole system will collapse.
Remember, credit is nothing more than trust and the last year should've proven what happens when that trust vanishes.
It's time that somebody pays attention to the games these clowns in Washington are playing, because we are not a respecter of men, we are a respecter of laws.
Once that goes away, what's left?
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