AIG Gives Taxpayers the Finger — AGAIN!
In the past year, too many large corporations have performed the following sequence:
1. Hold out hand to receive financial gift from taxpayers;
2. Close three fingers around the money, leaving the middle finger extended.
The following might be the most revolting case yet (but it’s hard to say, since there’re so many to choose from):
In 2005, AIG acquired Utilities Inc., a holding company that controls a lot of small water utilities across the country. These utilities only add up to about 300,000 customers. But these water companies are mostly in poor rural areas; and most of the customers are at or below the poverty level. In other words they’re easy targets for corporate scams.
Two of the most blatant victims of AIG’s extortion scheme were the rural Kentucky towns of Middlesboro and Clinton. In the summer of 2008, AIG “upgraded” its billing system for these two towns. “Upgraded” means the water utility started copying the same slippery tactics that credit card companies had already perfected: Double billing, “neglecting” to send a bill and then charging a huge penalty if the payment is late, making the due date unclear so that payments are more likely to be late, etc.
In November 2008, right after AIG had received the first installment of its multi-jillion dollar taxpayer handout, they notified Clinton and Middlesboro residents that their water rates would be going up by 51%.
Was this huge windfall going to be channeled back into local projects or infrastructure improvements? Fuck No. This extra $750,000 per year — extorted out of 8,000 low-income customers — would be used by AIG to recover their expenses from having “upgraded” their billing system.
That’s right. These 8,000 poverty-level residents were being forced to pay the costs of their own fleecing and gouging.
When AIG acquired Utilities Inc., the CEO of AIG, Win J. Neuger, said:
“We have long considered water infrastructure as an attractive investment opportunity and an excellent complement to our existing energy infrastructure portfolio. Utilities Inc. is a leader in this industry and we are pleased that we have the opportunity to acquire this business.”
Where’s the Baader-Meinhof Gang when we really need them?
We all remember last Spring when Senator Charles Grassley urged AIG executives to commit suicide.
Jump already, Motherfuckers!.