Who Hijacked Our Country

Friday, November 27, 2009

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!.

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Blogger Lew Scannon said...

What a nice scam: find a basic necessity, like water or health care, find a way to jack up the price while actually cutting back on services, then sit back and count all that money while poopin' on the 16th century gold rimmed Louis XIV toilet.

November 27, 2009 at 8:55 PM  
Blogger kimc said...

How can we stop this? Why would any community privatize something as essential as water? Why can't we just take away the corporate charters of these big corporations for cheating the People?

November 28, 2009 at 12:33 AM  
Blogger Holte Ender said...

Like health insurance, utility companies should be considered a public service, not an opportunity for the AIGs of this world to scam populations of all their spare change. We live in a mixed economy, there are plenty of openings for the entrepreneurs to make themselves a pile without sucking the life out of the bare necessities of life.

November 28, 2009 at 5:42 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

Maybe if those lazy fatcats stopped sucking at the teat of the government dole for five seconds to pull themselves up by their boot straps and get edumacated, then maybe those poor AIG execs wouldn't have had to teach them a painful, but necessary, lesson in scamology.

November 28, 2009 at 9:12 AM  
Anonymous Jolly Roger said...

In places like Kentucky, Texas, and Indiana, the Rushpubliscums are furiously parceling out things like water, sewer, and road services.

And the voters there keep right on following their Judas Cows to the slaughterhouse.

The more I see, the more I wonder when our Stalin is going to show up.

November 28, 2009 at 11:38 AM  
Blogger jadedj said...

This is scum risen to it's own level. Suicide my ass. Tar and feather and then re-institute the practice of Draw and Quarter...the horse method.

Is there no agency or authority, looking out for this kind of shit? Have all these corporations gone totally insane with greed? Never mind, I know the answer.

November 28, 2009 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

I'm ashamed to have investments with AIG. Same with Bank of America.

Privatizing something as essential as water is bad enough, as it makes something essential that much more expensive, but just wait until they privatize air. Then only the rich will be able to breathe. What a great way to get rid of all the people who don't count because they don't make enough money.

I don't know about any of you, but I believe this kind of mentality will result in only the rich being able to go to school, get health care, get clean water, and basically to survive. Who will get to decide who survives and who doesn't? Sounds to me like they're getting into "death panel" territory. Like, Quality of Life Death Panels.

November 28, 2009 at 3:07 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Lew: Yup, great scam. It's getting more and more common too. I first heard of this happening to a small town in California about 15 years ago, and it's happening more and more now.

Kimc: I doubt if any of these communities consented to this. I don't know if there's a way to fight this, or to revoke the charters of companies that do this.

Holte: I agree, utilities and basic health care are public services; and not a gold mine for leeches to swoop in and siphon money off of everybody.

Randal: That's right, a painful lesson in scamology, that's what them dirtpoor peons needed. It was a dirty job, but AIG was up to the task.

JR: Judas Cow -- good description. (I saw your blog post describing that.) No doubt, if somebody tried to help these people or crack down on these corporate hijackers, the locals would scream "get them outside agitators out of here!" and "I don't want no leftist gummint bureaucrats meddlin' in my water supply!"

Snave: Oh My God! You have investments with AIG??? How could you??? [whispering] ahem...so do I.

Same with Bank of America (not any more though). The closest bank was a B of A. They recently closed that branch, so then we switched to a local bank.

If water privatization gets too common, it'll start to seem like the norm. And then the corporate demagogues and their gullible followers will scream "Socialized Water?!?!?"

jadedj: I'm all in favor of tar and feathers and drawing and quartering for people like that.

November 28, 2009 at 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Bee said...

JadedJ said: This is scum risen to it's own level. Suicide my ass. Tar and feather and then re-institute the practice of Draw and Quarter...the horse method.

I am TOTALLY on board with that. A few public hangings on Wall Street, right by the fucking bull/bear whatever they have out at any given time, just might take the wind out of their sails.

This is bullshit, privatizing water, that's what this is. Utter bullshit.

November 28, 2009 at 5:34 PM  
Anonymous Jess said...

Not only across the country is this happening, it is happening world wide. I was reading this earlier today and thought it fit well here. Read it and get all ticked off all over again.

Remember that some of these people are the same people taking water from our local sources then bottling it back up and selling it as Dasani or whatever brand. You pay for the water then they bottle it and get more money. Scam indeed, I am in the wrong kind of investments is all I can say.

November 28, 2009 at 7:59 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Bee: Damn right. Hang 'em high. And slowly.

Jess: It's definitely a growing phenomenon, here and globally. And now Italy too, from your Daily Kos link. The first time I heard of this was in Bodega Bay, CA about 20-odd years ago (not 15 years ago like I said in an earlier comment). It's a wealthy town so they weren't hit as hard as the people in those 2 towns in Kentucky. But residents were furious when their water bills suddenly started doubling and tripling and then they found out some asshole in Naples, FL had "bought" their water supply.

The most publicized case was when Bechtel purchased Bolivia's water supply. The Bolivian people were so pissed, the government was afraid there'd be a revolution, so they canceled the contract with Bechtel. Bechtel tried to sue Bolivia for breach of contract, but I don't think it went anywhere.

November 29, 2009 at 11:20 AM  
Anonymous Jess said...

It will be like the new oil, if they get their hands into that pie. Wasn't there rumor of commander cuckoo bananas, buying up some huge swath of land that had an aquafier under it in Paraguay?

November 29, 2009 at 4:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Jess: You're right, the Bush Crime Family bought a huge spread in Paraguay, which by sheer coincidence is right near the country's aquifer. I guess that's cheaper than invading Paraguay for their water supply.

November 29, 2009 at 6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I seem to remember you once posted long ago about corporate interest buying up utility rights.

Archive Erik

November 29, 2009 at 9:20 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

There shouldn't be any question about breaking up AIG and firing its trustees and top executives. The questions should be how soon can we do it and how many pieces do we break it into?

November 29, 2009 at 11:49 PM  

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