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Father, forgive me…

So, when did Envy go from being one of the 7 deadly sins to being a prerequisite for participation in political life?

(Truth in advertising disclaimer:  I am not Catholic.  The 7 deadly sins weren’t something that got drilled into my head when I was a kid, so any theological discussions about the subject on my part should be taken with a truckload of salt.  That, and I’m pretty sure Wikipedia isn’t the best possible source of information on Catholic Theology…)

Apparently,

those who commit the sin of envy resent that another person has something they perceive themselves as lacking, and wish the other person to be deprived of it. Dante defined this as “love of one’s own good perverted to a desire to deprive other men of theirs.”

Is this a definition of the Congressional response (not to mention the president and a whole boatload of other folks, including the union guys that arranged the tour of the homes of AIG employees) to the AIG bonus thing, or what?  I wonder how many of the 162 Catholics in Congress voted to punish the bonus recipients?  (And no, I’m not going to work up a list and answer the question for myself.)  It may be just me, but a vote for these “punish AIG” measures looks like a mortal sin to me.  (insert salt here…)

One of the things that fascinates me about all of this is that I can’t find any exceptions or disclaimers that allow what would otherwise be envy if the stuff you want others deprived of came to them through crime, collusion, conspiracy or the actions of idiots.

In a broader view, Our Dear Leader and his Party (and, in fairness, a sizable number of the opposition)  seem hell-bent on punishing the rich simply because they have money.  (Of course, the whole tax/spend/welfare state thing won’t stop with the “rich” but that’s a different discussion.)  No matter what mental gymnastics you have to perform to justify it in your own mind, it is still institutionalized, state-sanctioned envy.  It is, I suppose, easier to rationalize a national envy crusade if you believe that wealth is a zero-sum game.  The fact that it clearly and demonstrably isn’t a zero-sum game makes the whole “the rich got that way by stealing from the poor” argument untenable.  But, let’s not let reality get in the way of our effort to build a national consensus that people with money are evil and deserve to have it taken from them.

As far as AIG is concerned, I’ve seen some arguments that paying bonuses to a significant number of  employees who did good work to keep them from jumping what appears to be a still-sinking ship was justified.  That may be true.  I don’t know.  I think it gets harder to make that case the closer you get to the top.  I also think that none of this would have been an issue if we had neglected to bail them out in the first place.  And, I think that while some of the bonuses may have been necessary, the bad judgment demonstrated by the AIG upper management in the way the whole thing was handled simply reinforces my belief that we have thrown a ton of money at a company whose leadership simply does not have the capacity to make sound business decisions.

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