According to recent press reports, the creationist organization Answers in Genesis will merge with the troubled insurance giant American International Group. The new corporation will be named AIG, for American Indulgences Group.
AIG chairman Edward Liddy will become the chairman of AIG. AIG chairman Ken Ham will be second in command and will continue to direct the Creation Museum, which will be renamed Credit Management. CM will rate bonds that are based on credit-default swaps on a scale from AAA to aaa. AIG will also subcontract with the Vatican to market indulgences in the United States. These indulgences are expected to become AIG’s major product. The Vatican, in an ecumenical gesture, agreed that it would not impose a religious test on those who purchased its indulgences.
Ham argues that redirecting his organization from young-earth creationism to voodoo economics is not as much of a leap as it might appear at first glance. Like creationism, free-market economics is wholly unsupported by the evidence: boom-and-bust cycles like the present cycle, for example, followed a failed experiment in deregulation. Ham maintains, however, that faith is superior to intellect, and the economy gods must have put those booms and busts in there for a reason. Economic theory, he says, is entirely faith based anyway, and he will from now on put his faith in derivatives.
Distinguished first-amendment scholar Reed Cartwright argues that the US taxpayer owns over 79 % of AIG. Because AIG is a religious organization, the merger could be construed as an establishment of religion by the government and will require a waiver from the Justice Department. Cartwright anticipates that the American Civil Liberties Union will file suit to block the merger.
Liddy observes that AIG is, in fact, a nonprofit organization, and merging with AIG merely acknowledges its status as such. He will continue to receive his salary of $1 per year, but will be eligible for a retention bonus equal to whatever is required to maintain AIG’s status as a nonprofit. Ham, by contrast, will accept payment in the form of options based on credit-default swaps. “You could say I am testing my faith,” he says; “God is my counterparty.”