Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Get Bailed Out, then Party

This story by Andrew Taylor of the Associated Press is making headlines this morning:

WASHINGTON - Days after it got a federal bailout, American International Group Inc. spent $440,000 on a posh California retreat for its executives, complete with spa treatments, banquets and golf outings, according to lawmakers investigating the company's meltdown.
AIG sent its executives to the coastal St. Regis resort south of Los Angeles even as the company tapped into an $85 billion loan from the government it needed to stave off bankruptcy. The resort tab included $23,380 worth of spa treatments for AIG employees, according to invoices the resort turned over to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The retreat didn't include anyone from the financial products division that nearly drove AIG under, but lawmakers still were enraged over thousands of dollars spent on outing for executives of AIG's main U.S. life insurance subsidiary.
"Average Americans are suffering economically. They're losing their jobs, their homes and their health insurance," the committee's chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., scolded the company during a lengthy opening statement at a hearing Tuesday. "Yet less than one week after the taxpayers rescued AIG, company executives could be found wining and dining at one of the most exclusive resorts in the nation."

For the full story go to;_ylt=Ark47SsgVWiat_GbXbYmWNKs0NUE

The minute I read this article, the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18 came to mind. In the parable, a servant of the king could not pay what he owed the king. The king ordered the man, along with his wife, children and personal belongings, to be sold to repay the debt. The servant, however, fell on his knees and begged the king to be patient, promising that he would pay everything back. The king “took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go” (18:27).

The parable goes on to show how the servant who was forgiven his debt turned around and did not have the same compassion for someone who owed him money. Instead of forgiving as he was forgiven, the servant had the debtor thrown into prison.

In this parable, the servant did not go out and throw a big party, spending money he claimed not to have. But he did hold someone else accountable where he himself was not. And that's exactly what AIG did, and, apparently by their recent actions, plan to continue doing. By throwing this lavish party just days after being forgiven, i.e. "bailed out," they celebrate and make merry with money they claim not to have, showing no compassion whatsoever for those suffering financially, and indicating that it's back to business as usual...self-centered greed and no accountability, quickly forgetting how much they've been forgiven.

I guess to AIG, $440,000 is just peanuts, a drop in the bucket, nothing to get wigged out about. But I wonder, how many times was a "mere" $440,000 looked at this way before it all added up to 85 billion?

"What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?" Matthew 16:26


Kristin said...

Barb, I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog! God has gifted you to see His truth in everything. Now if I could only tune into the Holy Spirit a bit more like I see Him in you. God bless!

Barb Harwood said...

Hi Kristin,
Great to hear from you! I often get frustrated that I miss the Holy Spirit altogether! But then I rely on Philippians 1:6 that says we can be confident "that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus!" That's why being a Christian is so much fun...we're always growing! ( :