If "transparency" is to become the mantra of Obama Administration, it's time to put it to work at AIG.
As the President calls for tough measures by Treasury Secretary Geithner to impose responsibility on the company and the Attorney General of New York opens an investigation into horrific bonuses, there are other strategies we can employ. Here's how:
1. Require the financial giant to hold quarterly "citizen shareholder meetings." After all, you and I own up to eighty percent of the company. Stream the meetings live, to America, on the web, and provide electronic printed data discussed at the meetings so all can read the meeting material. Allow questions from U.S. taxpayers at such meetings who will demand candid answers about making the company financially viable and able to repay Treasury. Let the top echelon of the corporation face Main Street.
2. Mandate AIG to accept the appointment of a "Chief Transparency Officer,"a public ombudsperson who can blog each day about how our money is being utilized. This individual should be allowed unfettered access to the inner workings of the money giant, in all sectors of the company…while still constrained to protect the proprietary interests of the concern.
3. Create a shareholder cause of action for taxpayers to privately prosecute any breach of fiduciary duties in companies which receive tax dollar bailout and stimulus monies. Shareholders in publicly traded corporations have such a right, and it is time for those who pay the tax monies which feed AIG and other recipients of tax revenues to enjoy such powers as well. Opponents will claim this could cause massive amounts of litigation, but if the Congress cannot put responsible constraints on such companies, someone has to do the job. Taxpayer lawsuits may just be the answer.
Pull open the veil of secrecy…that's the least you can do with our $170,000,000,000.