Friday, March 13, 2009

AIG Insures Congress' Pensions?


I recently heard a rumor about the insurance giant AIG. The rumor goes like this...

"The reason congress was so quick to bailout AIG was that the pension funds of all congress members were covered by AIG."

I found this rumor to be flat out FALSE. Read more here and here.

Just to be clear. The pension plans of congresspeople are not insured by AIG or any other company for that matter.

The epiphany I had was in response to an action I witnessed as a direct result of this. A statement need not be true in order to have profound effects. The person from whom I heard this rumor proceeded to inform me that he had just purchased 16,000 shares of AIG stock! His faith in the long term survival of AIG had been reaffirmed. Though this bit of knowledge was in fact false it was powerful enough to spur one man to shift thousands of dollars in an instant. Imagine these results multiplied by the number of minds deceived by countless circulating e-mails.

The spreading of a rumor often outpaces the correcting force of investigative journalism. Both must be as fast as the speed of light these days.

Perhaps this false understanding of reality is beneficial. Perhaps AIG will be saved by an influx of money by wealthy people fooled by the above assertion.

In many ways this case makes an argument for the survival of religious mythologies. If the story of a God and his son be true or not whether it be the Christian father and Jesus or Odin and Thor it does not really matter. As long as the telling of the story moves real people to positive action then survival of the mythology makes sense. The problem arises when society attempts to qualify "positive action." This is a question presented anew to each living generation.

The choice made by the investor described above puts the entire financial meltdown in perspective. Any intangible financial device is made up of "make-believe" value. When it comes down to real value there are precious few items that truly make up a person's worth. To me these are health, education, and attitude. These are the qualities that lift and let down civilizations.

If you would like control over where your tax dollars flow here is an idea I had.

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