Diary

AIG: Politicians Misdirect Media-Surprised?

The big AIG parties are all the rage in US media, with stories of “spa treatments” and lavish affairs splashed over front pages from coast to coast. Stories are taped in front of AIG headquarters, with taking heads (Brian Ross) detailing “lavish expenditures” at places like The Pointe Resort in Phoenix.

So what is the AIG staff really doing? Do they really take taxpayer money to blow on Toga parties while America suffers?

Dan Kennedy from the Business & Media Institute has a little different explanation that makes more sense.

The facts about these big AIG meetings are that sponsors, predominately financial product providers and other vendors, subsidize large portions of the budgets for these meetings. They directly underwrite or reimburse for expenses as well as rebate after the fact based on sales made to and through AIG. Attendees also pay to attend.

The $300,000 cost of the event splashed all over the TV screen in reporting on this is likely the budget but not the actual, net cost incurred by AIG. Further, these types of events are part and parcel of fueling sales in advance and rewarding salespeople for results.

Those reporting only the sensationalist aspect of all this – the cost, the fact that they occur at fancy locations – are either ignorant of or, more likely, deliberately omitting the other facts. That’s either to protect the tabloid value of the story, or due to another agenda.

The politicians who propose micro-managing these companies’ use of funds are nothing but blowhards. They know full well such oversight is impossible. Once funds are lent or invested, they merge and commingle with all other funds and no one can trace a dollar spent on a spa treatment for a top producing sales agent’s spouse back to its origin.

Further, the politicians’ fake outrage would be better replaced with real rage directed at themselves for complete and utter failure to oversee and regulate the one thing that really matters: Is a company like AIG maintaining the necessary financial reserves to support the insurance it is selling?

The best part of what Kennedy writes underscores the problem we have with the entire US political system.

If we had citizen government instead of entrenched royalty, Congress would be populated by business owners, salespeople, shopkeepers, financial professionals and others who, back home, hold real world jobs, run real world businesses, meet real world payrolls, and have some firsthand practical knowledge. Instead we are the victims of career politicians completely distanced and divorced from the world you and I live in, and the businesses they attempt to regulate.