We all know about AIG's exploits on the taxpayer. After receiving huge bailout funds, it was learned that AIG executives made vomit-inducing bonuses (on the taxpayer) and went on a lavish vacation, again on the taxpayer. In case anyone forgot, those perks were approved by the primary recipient of AIG political contributions, Senator Chris Dodd. Thanks, Chris. Hope you enjoy your retirement in your "Irish cottage..." you know the one...the house that shady characters help you buy...the one you can't quite remember the value of? That one. But I digress.
No, my problem with AIG goes beyond the massive bailout and the shenanigans that followed the bailout. It seems the major shareholder in AIG is now YOU. That is, you and I (as taxpayers) own eighty percent of the company. So my question is simple. How can the government have a major controlling stake in a company, and allow that company to hire a board to specifically determine whether certain funds are "Sharia Compliant." It seems a clear violation of the First Amendment.
You see, prior to the bailout (and currently I assume), AIG was the largest purveyor of Sharia Compliant funds. The company hired (and the government retained) a board made up of advisers from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Pakistan. The job of these advisers is to "review operations, supervise its development of Islamic products, and determine Sharia compliance of these products and investments."
This practice has been challenged in the Eastern District of Michigan and is likely headed to the Supreme Court. So where is the ACLU in all this? Who knows...it is the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, that has shown the leadership on this un-Constitutional situation. AIG was fully within their boundaries when they were privately held, but when we bailed them out, the game changed. I am confused though. Although Obama seems intent on controlling every facet of companies that took TARP money, why is he allowing this situation to remain. Wait, I take that back. He is not allowing it...he is condoning it. His Administration asked the TMLC to dismiss its lawsuit.
Most of this is old news...but it is still working through the system. But yet another concern presents itself. A case that should be clearly a violation of the First Amendment may find itself before the Supreme Court. And who might be the deciding vote on this issue? Elaine Kagan. Where does Kagan stand on this issue? She is a major supporter of Sharia Compliant Finance. Yikes! So would Kagan be capable of putting the law before her own special interests? Again, who knows? She has never been a judge, so there is no historical data to determine her judicial mindset. That makes things very scary for me. It is one thing to know whether a Judge can be the neutral referee between parties or, conversely, legislate from the bench. With Kagan, who knows what we will get.
In the end, AIG remains a taxpayer funded institution. It will remain that way until AIG figures out how to pay us back. In the meantime, the Sharia Council must go. Any existing funds that were set up before the bailout may be able to stay. They are merely funds. But the process of determining their continual compliance with Sharia Law should be done outside the institution by unpaid watchdog's who voluntarily provide that information to investors. Having a paid board of religious advisers seems incredible for a government funded institution. Yet that is exactly what we have. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will put politics and special interests aside and end this un-Constitutional practice.