AIG execs — poverty and more great PR

Standard advice is that you should warm-up before running. You know. Take a few minutes to stretch. I never follow that advice. I’ve found that a pot of strong coffee works just as well. But I guess you could apply the same advice to writing. Warm-up before you get to the heavy lifting. Here goes.

It appears that the executives of American Insurance Group Inc. (AIG) are having a grand old time now that they are the wards of U.S. taxpayers. The Captains of Industry at this firm just returned from an $86,000 hunting trip in England. That follows the $440,000 junket to the resort in California. And of course it all follows the more than $130 billion bailout the company received from the U.S. Treasury. Who says this isn’t a great country?

This, of course, is another PR disaster, coming on the day when the Dow tanked another 7 percent. And it’s not that the Titans of Capitalism don’t get it. They don’t care. I wonder if AIG has a public relations staff? If so, good luck to them.

And good luck to John McCain. I actually managed to stay up for most of the debate last night. And I remain convinced that McCain is a decent, honorable man who would have been a great president if elected eight years ago. Unfortunately, we ended up with W. — and the rest is history. McCain made his points last night. He was aggressive and at times irritated. Barack Obama was presidential. That’s good because in January he is going to be president.

And Obama is going to be president because it’s about the economy. On the day of the debate, following the latest Dow disaster, The New York Times reported that the next casualty in the financial debacle is going to be household incomes. Consider this:

What, then, will the next stage of the downturn be about? It is likely to revolve around the worst slump in worker pay since — you knew this was coming — the Great Depression. This slump won’t be anywhere near as bad as the one during the Depression, but it also won’t be like anything the country has experienced in a long time.

Income for the median household — the one in the dead middle of the income distribution — will probably be lower in 2010 than it was, amazingly enough, a full decade earlier. That hasn’t happened since the 1930s. Already, median pay today is slightly lower than it was in 2000, and by 2010, could end up more than 5 percent lower than its old peak.

And here’s from the Associated Press:

NEW YORK – The number of U.S. jobs paying a poverty-level wage increased by 4.7 million between 2002 and 2006, according to a new analysis of census data released Tuesday.

A report by The Working Poor Families Project, based on an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, found conditions worsened for the working poor in the four years ending in 2006, as the number of low-income working families increased by 350,000. The project is funded by the Annie E. Casey, Ford, Joyce and C.S. Mott Foundations.

The report defines a low-income working family as those earning less than twice the Census definition of poverty. In 2006, the most recent year for available data, a family of four earning $41,228 or less qualified as a low-income family.

Meanwhile, in Michigan, 300 people, including Gov. Jennifer Granholm, are this week eating like food stamp recipients to put the spotlight on poverty.

That means they can spend a total of, ah, $5.87 a day per person. Did I hear someone yell, “double low-fat latte”?

Well, you get it. The guys at AIG are off hunting in England with expenses paid by the U.S. taxpayers. The worldwide financial meltdown continues, taking with it now the income of working Americans. And people are living in Michigan, and most likely elsewhere, on $5.87 a day.

It’s the economy, stupid.

And gee. Too much effort warming up. No time for any heavy lifting today.


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