Let's deal with the AIG thing first. That huge insurance company sold thousands of policies to bad lenders, and when the junk mortgage fraud industry crashed, AIG had to pay some of the losses. Because the company also insures millions of Americans, the feds bailed these screw-ups out and gave them $173 billion taxpayer dollars.
Now we learn that the incompetents running AIG, headed by CEO Edward Liddy, are paying $1.2 billion of the bailout money to their own executives for bonuses and other payouts, saying they are contractually obligated to do so:
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REP. BARNEY FRANK, D-MASS.: Forget about the legal matter here for a second. These bonuses are going to people who screwed this thing up enormously, who made terrible decisions.
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Although we have some problems with Frank's performance overseeing the economy, the congressman is dead-on here.
No bonus money for AIG people. Period. They want to sue, let 'em.
President Obama says he will try to block the bonus payments, so he seems to be standing up for the folks on this one. That's good because he's definitely not standing up for the folks in Detroit.
As you may know, the Detroit public school system is a shambles. Only about 35 percent of the students graduate from high school. Of those, only 5 percent are ready to do college academic work.
President Obama's solution is to give the Detroit public school system $530 million of taxpayer money. Another let's spend our way out of a problem scenario.
But here is the real problem. Audits have shown that about $54 million tax dollars are missing or have been misspent by Detroit public school officials. In the past four years, three superintendents have been fired, and 18 of the 19 schools are on the failure list, according to test scores.
Last year, the school system amassed a colossal $200 million deficit, largely because there is no school tax base in Detroit. Most everyone who has money has moved out. But President Obama wants to move $530 million in.
"Talking Points" says no. No to AIG. No to the Detroit school chaos.
If Obama wants to fix the schools in Motown, the feds have to run the system because the locals cannot be trusted with the money. Is everybody clear on that?
It is easy for Barack Obama or any other politician to say he wants to help the kids learn, but it is hard to tell the truth about why they are not learning.
The Detroit public schools are chaotic, violent, and many of the children there are unsupervised at home and have no learning curve at all. Money will not solve that problem. Discipline and honesty might mitigate it, but with derelict parents, it is just about impossible to impose academic skills.
If President Obama continues to simply throw money at complicated problems, he will bankrupt the country, and we will all suffer greatly. Honesty and accountability is required, not rampant government spending. And that's the truth.
And that's "The Memo."
Pinheads & Patriots
Two patriots this evening. First, I marched in the South Boston St. Patrick's Day parade Sunday, the 108th edition — great time — in perhaps America's most Irish-centric neighborhood. Big thanks to the firefighters at K Street and Artie Brown, who hosted me. They are patriots.
As is Ron Silver, who died over the weekend at age 62. The actor was a real good guy, an independent thinker, and we always enjoyed talking with him on "The Factor." Mr. Silver had cancer, and he will be missed.
On the pinhead front, hundreds of would-be models here in New York City lined up to get on that dopey "America's Next Top Model" program. Predictably, a scuffle broke out. It's not important why. Six people were injured, three arrested. We hope they look good in their mug shots because they are pinheads.