Monday, March 23, 2009

Does Extortion Work?


Ex*tor"tion\, n. [F. extorsion.]
1. The act of extorting; the act or practice of wresting anything from a person by force, by threats, or by any undue exercise of power; undue exaction; overcharge.
2. (Law) The offense committed by an officer who corruptly claims and takes, as his fee, money, or other thing of value, that is not due, or more than is due, or before it is due. --Abbott.
3. That which is extorted or exacted by force.
Syn: Oppression; rapacity; exaction; overcharge.

extortion. (n.d.). Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary. Retrieved March 23, 2009, from website:

It is now said that 15 of the top 20 AIG bonus-getters are going to pay (or have paid) back their big bonuses they recently received—a total of about $30 million. The aggressive attorney general of the Empire State, Andrew Cuomo, seems happy to report this.

Here's some more about Cuomo from the article:

"I applaud the employees who are returning the bonuses," Cuomo said during a conference call with reporters. "I think they are being responsive to the American people."

Cuomo said 9 of the 10 people receiving the largest awards have agreed to return their bonus. Additionally, 15 of the top 20 bonus recipients have consented to returning their money. Cuomo said some have refused to return the money, while others are still considering it....

Cuomo said he doesn't plan to release the names of the employees who have agreed to return the bonuses, and said there is no implied threat that if an employee doesn't consent to returning the bonus that their name will be released.

I'm not so sure about that last sentence.

(I also suspect that lawyers for the bonus-getters have found some way to keep open the door to a lawsuit at some future time to get those bonuses back, when the conditions are more favorable to such a possibility.)

Question: If the AIG bonuses were legally obtained (no matter how dimwitted) by work in a law-abiding company, and the government pressures them into giving those bonuses back by various threats of taxation (and the potential of deep public shame), is this extortion?

Answer: According to the definition above, Yes.

Question: Does Extortion Work?

Answer: In our current government, Yes.

Question: Who are you going to vote for in the next election?

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