Tough Love and A.I.G.

04/23/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In rooms where people are in recovery, you hear the phrase, "You're as sick as your secrets." American taxpayers are learning bailed out corporations and banks are pretty sick and so apparently is this country's government when it comes to responding to the crises. Bank of America wanted to hide its bonuses, A.I.G. kept its bail-out bucks bonus plan on the hush, and no one told taxpayers a plan to control and monitor bonuses at A.I.G. was killed by some mystery force in Congress. Someone's behaving like an addict and someone else is behaving like the person who loves them.

In the case of A.I.G., America's taxpayers and elected officials gave $170 billion to a corporation that's drug of choice is more...more profits, giant bonuses and more bail out money. Taxpayers never actually had a vote on any of it. However, there wasn't organized outrage by us either before the bailouts went to the big corporations. If someone's addicted to white flour and sugar and you hand them two-dozen donuts, what do you think they'll do with them? If someone's an over spender and you hand them a wad of cash, how do you think that addict will react? If they're not in recovery for their addictions, they'll behave like the addicts that they are. Not to mention A.I.G.'s small gambling problem, you know, betting on derivatives.

In 1886 the U.S. Supreme Court defined corporations as "persons" giving them the same legal rights as people. I know a few "persons" who have some serious addiction problems. They've pretty much run unchecked through the halls of Wall Street and sidewalks of main street. If there were tabloid's covering this stuff, let's just say A.I.G. would be shown leaving the hottest night club with a shaven head, getting into a Mercedes, then slumping in the driver's seat before driving away. I know three letters that go with A.I.G. -- D.W.I. Unfortunately, because of the systematic stripping away of all oversight of said "person," no law enforcement agent will pull this driver over to arrest him.

There's outrage all around the Internet and protests across the country right now about A.I.G.'s use of the bail out money for bonuses. Anger over bonuses seems to be the focal point for a broader anger over our government officials falling all over themselves to throw taxpayer money at large failing companies. These are the same companies that have absolutely no program of recovery when it comes to overspending and behaving unethically with consumers and taxpayers. Has A.I.G. issued a collective apology? Nope. Some have returned bonuses, which is a good thing, but no one has said, "I'm sorry." Sitting on the pity pot while not taking responsibility for bad behavior is yet another hallmark of an addictive personality. You know what they say, "Poor me, poor me....pour me another drink".

The good news in this is that perhaps we Americans are also having what can be called a moment of clarity. We're recognizing that these corporations have a problem with over consuming, over spending and gambling (betting on derivatives). We're seeing how sick it is to prop up something that engages in such self-centered behavior. Banks and mortgage companies had sliding interest rates, risky investments and virtually no oversight that have now truly harmed the average American homeowner and consumer. The sure sign of an addict is abusive behavior without honest regret or change in behavior. The sure sign of a codependent is helping the addictive abuser, instead of walking away until the addict gets help and makes real progress.

Hitting bottom can force addicts to take a second look at their choices and can help them become responsible for the consequences. Tough love is a viable option if there's an addict in your life. Sometimes you have to get really mad first. Then you have to take a firm stand. With everything turning upside down in this economy, I believe the word 'no' is the new 'yes' when it comes to bailing out addicted corporations.