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.
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.
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.