Tuesday, March 17, 2009

AIG Angst

The entire country is up in arms over news that AIG on Friday mailed bonus checks to executives totaling over $165-million. This after receiving an cash infusion from taxpayers of $173-billion, and chalking up a $99-billion operating loss last year. AIG says it’s contractually obligated to pay the bonuses.

New York’s Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said last week, in effect, "prove it," demanding names and numbers of those who received the bonuses. When AIG failed to meet Cuomo’s deadline on Friday, subpoena’s were issued for the documentation.

Extreme times call for extreme measures, but Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley probably went a little too far, calling for AIG executives to "resign or commit suicide." At this point, many of you might share that sentiment, but such behavior would not solve the issue at hand.

The solution is simple: Now that the American Public owns 80% of AIG through bailout dollars from taxpayers, any bonuses should be placed into escrow for the time being. That gives the Attorneys General time to sort out the legal ramifications, which likely could go to the Supreme Court before the dust settles. The bonuses can be paid after the American Public is repaid in full.

While said bonuses may have been due and payable under terms of agreements in force, AIG must recognize by now the folly of appearing to reward failure at a time when all American’s are struggling financially…brought on by the very shenanigans in which AIG has been involved.

This is not a time for bonuses.

This is also not a time for emotional reactions and blood lust against people who are caught between a subpoena and a lynchmob. A meaningful, public apology from AIG’s top brass would be a good first step. I want to see it on prime-time, national TV. Interrupt the drivel the Networks usually run, and put these clowns on-camera, on their knees.

They should go a step further, however.
Refusing to accept the bonuses 'twould be nobler thing than they have likely ever done before, to twist a quote from Charles Dickens.

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