AIG and Counter-Productive Rhetoric (Update: Great Point Made In Comments)



When I heard that AIG executives were being paid $165 million in bonuses despite the fact they’ve received billions in taxpayer money I was appalled.  I had a real hard time wrapping my mind around the injustice of that.

Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT)

It really pissed me off.  If you know me well, you know I rarely utter words that crass, but I am really angry about it.  I understand on one hand the contracts that needed to be honored.  On the other hand I know that this should have been explored before bailout money was ever given to them.  Then again, I don’t think they should have been given bailout money to begin with.

Then there’s the whole political donations being made by AIG executives, with Senator Chris Dodd being one of the chief beneficiaries of those donations (President Obama being another).  Dodd was one who also pushed a law through protecting those very bonuses that he is now feigning outrage about.  What a hypocrite.  Our Government has ultimately failed us, not AIG.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

So I’m angry.  I’m sure you’re angry as a taxpayer.  I know Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is angry because he made the most over-the-top statement about this whole situation.

“I suggest, you know, obviously, maybe they ought to be removed. But I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they’d follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say ‘I’m sorry,’ and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide.”

I like Senator Grassley.  I’ve spoken with him on a couple of different occasions.  I’ve voted for him.  I think he is a good man.  I also think the comment he made was incredibly stupid.  I literally cringed when I heard it.  He later clarified his comments:

“Of course I don’t want people to commit suicide,” the Iowa Republican said. “But I do want an attitude in corporate American that’s similar to what they have in corporate Japan.

“[In Japan], people that run a corporation into a ground have violated their trust with the stockholders and maybe even the taxpayers — they take a very deep bow, they apologize, they are remorseful, they are contrite, they take full responsibility,” he added. “We have not heard the sort of apology, remorsefulness, contrition, that we ought to hear from corporate executives in America assuming full responsibility.”

I agree that AIG should apologize.  So should Congress that allowed this to happen.  Senator Grassley should also apologize for this type of rhetoric as well.  I know he’s mad, so am I, but is this helpful?  Is it productive?  No.  It doesn’t provide any answers or alternatives.  I don’t see AIG executives resigning en masse as a result of Senator Grassley expressing his anger.  Anger doesn’t tell you how to solve problems, but allows you to stew in resentment.

Update: Josh makes an excellent point about these bonuses.

These were retention bonuses… AIG made promises to employees who where very likely to lose their jobs that if they stayed on for x amount of time they would get paid… The employees kept their end of the bargain… Selling off the securities that paid their salary.. Now the Government wants to steal the money that they have worked for the last year for.

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  • http://politicsandcriticalthinking.blogspot.com/ CrticalThinker

    Hey Shane,

    Do people really grasp they are getting riled up over $165 million in bonuses when we are about to plunge almost $3.6 trillion in debt, we are looking at the tax burden doubling over the next 10 years, the president is about proposing making vets pay for their own war wounds, the White House is trying to get the ChiComs to buy more treasury bonds, the bailout queens in Congress are proposing welfare for newspapers, etc. Do I really need to go on?

    Sorry, AIG giving out $165 million in taxpayer money is a bargain compared to what the deranged criminals on the Hill are doing. Kind of puts your anger in perspective doesn't it?

  • http://caffeinatedthoughts.com Shane Vander Hart

    I don't think people do get it, and I think this outrage is diversionary.

    It certainly does put our anger into perspective. I'm mad about this, but not just this.

  • http://caffeinatedthoughts.com Shane Vander Hart

    I don't think people do get it, and I think this outrage is diversionary.

    It certainly does put our anger into perspective. I'm mad about this, but not just this.

  • barb

    Breaking News: Dodd Says loophole that protects AIG Bonuses added per request of the Obama administration. The video is about a fifth of the way down.


    http://www.butasforme.com/2009/03/17/obamas-sti…>

    Obama should take full and direct responsibility for this mess.

  • http://www.fingertoe.com Josh R

    These where retention bonuses… AIG made promises to employees who where very likely to lose their jobs that if they stayed on for x amount of time they would get paid… The employees kept their end of the bargain… Selling off the securities that paid their salary.. Now the Government wants to steal the money that they have worked for the last year for.

    Be very careful here! Don't fall into the trap of letting the Dems agitate you into endorsing class warfare.

  • http://caffeinatedthoughts.com Shane Vander Hart

    Yes I know. That is why, and I guess I should make that clear in the post, I am not in favor of taking these bonuses away or having the government disrupt contracts.

    My main point with this is Grassley's reaction. Thank you for your warning!

  • http://caffeinatedthoughts.com Shane Vander Hart

    Thanks!

  • 17foxray88

    “I know Republicans don’t have a corner on stupidity, but they’re making a grand old effort to make it look like they do.”
    I have that and more to say about them and Senator Grassley in “No Republican Left Behind” at http://sonofthecucumberking.blogspot.com/ and would like to share my caffeinated thoughts (great line and title!) with you.