Background: As retained counsel for Long or Short Capital, I am occasionally called upon to render illegal opinions regarding current developments. Yesterday my opinion was asked on the House bill which would tax at a 90% rate the bonuses received by those making over $250,000 at companies receiving over $5 billion in TARP funds, including those firms which did not opt to take TARP funds but which were forced to. Specifically, you asked whether this might retroactively abrogate your pathetic mini-baller bonus for FY’08, or at least that’s how I interpreted your questions about whether “Contracts are valid anymore, specifically contracts in situations which have involved gross negligience (e.g. we put all our money in Bear Stearns after listening to Jim Cramer or blew our investors moneys on a series of extravagant lemon parties)”. Specifically you asked (1) whether it was fair; and, (2) whether the law prohibited this.
Brief Answer: Ha ha ha ha ha. You *kill* me. I’m waiting for you to recommend the prime rib, Shecky. Ever since the New Deal-era Supreme Court translated the Commerce Clause into English as “we can do what we want and you can’t stop us,” Congress has been able to take as much of your money as they want, at any time and for any reason. It’s a testament to their monumental stupidity that it took them nearly 80 years to figure this out. Unfortunately for you, they did.
Analysis: First, the law doesn’t recognize the concept of “fairness.” It only recognizes people with highly paid attorneys, who went to the right law school and who are licensed members of an court-sanction conspiracy to restrain trade, aka a “state bar.” Even then it only recognizes us grudgingly, one at a time, and it helps if we frequently lose a lot of money to the law playing match golf. The law “recognizes” fairness in the same way you “recognize” that girl from Ops that you hooked up with in a utility room after the Christmas Party last year – if it sees fairness coming, it will duck into the men’s room until after fairness has gone back to whatever dingy little office (cage?) the managing partner normally keeps it in.
Second, although the Constitution nominally prohibits Congress from singling out a class of people and taking all their money and holding them up to ridicule, you are not classed as “people” under the constitution. Ironically enough, under both the Marxian Critical Legal Theory and the Chicago School Theory of Law and Economics, those who make money rather than just standing there waving around a tin cup are considered “economic production units.” So you don’t really count as people in the traditional sense, except when it is time to figure out how many place settings will be needed at political fundraising dinners. Unlike former slaves (freed by the 13th Amendment), women (enfranchised by the 19th Amendment), drunks (allowed to drink by the 21st Amendment), and the predominantly white male property owners who were formerly protected by the rest of the Constitution, you my dear friend have been liberated from the duties of citizenship, and it seemed only fair to liberate you from the privileges too. Thus, to the extent you “enjoy” Constitutional protection, it involves lying back and enjoying it while Congress has its way with you. Don’t sweat it; my friend Sabina tells me that this is how Rome was born, so whatever transitory pain you may bear is probably justified by the greater good.
The problem here is not the punitive tax policy that concerns you, but the fact that you do not appreciate the religious and miraculous tenor of our times. Just recently, a law that would have protected your bonus was birthed within the stimulus bill without anybody in Congress having written, read, or voted for it. It was signed by the President without his knowing about it, and enforced by Treasury without their awareness. Indeed, it was the Miraculous Conception. Then it disappeared Friday, we are told, ascended into Heaven there to sit at the right hand of Adam Smith, raised [Ed: sic. razed] by the hand of the mighty archangel, “Will of the People.” Not much is known about Archangel Will, except that he does not like you very much.
I warned you about all of this this in a memorandum prior to the last election. A crack legal team working at my firm determined that the current president is the direct descendent of Lion-O, Jesus, Karl Marx and a unicorn of some reknown. The Members of Congress, on the other hand, were found to have descended from the unholy mating of a Know-Nothing anti-Irish lynch mob, William Jennings Bryan and the ghoulies from the movie The Ghoulies. I recommended at the time that you “go long” shotguns and dehydrated food, and “go short” reservations for the Hamptons. I also advised that you should put a stop check on the payment for your listings in The Social Register and Who’s Who Among Financial Advisors. But did you listen? No. The way you ignore my advice makes me feel like your mother, except for the fact that I get nearly three times as much per hour as she does.
Regardless of your fiscal incontinence, a local teleprompter with whom I have good relations tells me that it is important for you to remit payment for my advice immediately. It would be a shame if anything were to happen to your bank account. Specifically, it would be a shame if the IRS were to find out you have one, and that there is money in it.
Your most humble servant,