Reporter's Note: The President once again this week solicited advice from anyone who thinks he or she might have a better idea on how to run the government. And once again, I am pushing on in my quest to write a letter a day to the White House.
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
Do you remember the story of the monkey trap? A man hollows out a coconut, and cuts two holes in the side. Through one hole he threads a piece of rope to secure the coconut to a tree. Through the other hole, he slips a piece of hard candy, just small enough to fit.
“But how will this catch the monkey?” a little boy asks. “Just watch,” says the man. Along comes a monkey, which pokes its hand into the coconut. With a tight grip on the candy, the monkey’s fist is too large to be pulled free. And yet the animal is so intent on keeping its prize, it stays there struggling while the man and boy simply walk up and grab it by the scruff of the neck.
I have no idea if such traps actually exist, or for that matter what I would do with a monkey if I caught one; especially considering that under this scenario, presumably the monkey would then forevermore have a coconut hanging from his wrist.
“Hey, Tom, nice monkey. What’s with the coconut?”
“Hard to explain. Want some candy?”
Still, I am thinking about the story because I believe these AIG guys trying to hold onto their bonuses (despite the fact that the government had to bail out their company) are also effectively being trapped by their own greed.
I understand that they’d like to keep the money; just like, oh say, taxpayers would have liked to have kept their money too. I understand that they think they were promised something and that it is only right now for it to be delivered; just like, oh say, many Americans were effectively promised that the government was keeping an eye on the financial world to keep such shenanigans under control. And we’ve seen how that worked out.
It’s not like these guys are going to be poor, and yet they are willing to risk provoking all sorts of retribution before they’ll back away from the money. They’re acting like guys who have effectively beaten some midnight poker game through a clever scam, but who insist on hanging around trying to snatch a few thousand more even as the leg breakers are walking in the door. What is the sense in it?
I think sometimes greed is a type of sickness. Like the flu only not as messy. Greed for money. Greed for power. Greed for fame. It gets inside of people and takes over. And once you let it seize you so thoroughly, it changes you. Unbridled greed has the power to ruin families, mow down decency, turn honest men into cheats, and destroy nations.
So good luck in dealing with this AIG mess, but perhaps more importantly good luck in dealing with this virus of greed that seems to somehow have spread throughout the land; threatening, like the experiments on Dr. Moreau’s little island, to make monkeys of us all.
Still working up in New York, but I’m always on cell, so call if you get a minute. Not a worry if you can’t, but still it would be nice to chat.
For more of the Foreman Letters, go here.
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