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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

AIG Bonuses: Stupid Beyond Belief

Bonuses fly in the face of common sense

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Some things are just unbelievable. They defy all common sense. Like the time my wife chose Cleveland as a vacation destination. It wasn't even a good idea at the time, yet somehow, it happened. Such was my thought when it was revealed that executives employed by the hapless insurance giant AIG were to be paid $165 million in bonuses. Now, goodness knows that those of us who work in the private sector eagerly look forward to our year-end bonuses. My own boss is a very generous woman, and my family is very grateful for the 12 lbs. of kielbasa and the wheel of Stilton included with my paycheck every Christmas. Yearly bonuses are one of the many perks that companies use to attract and retain top talent, or as a reward for a job well done. This is especially true in the high-stakes worlds of insurance and international financial outfits. As my critics accurately point out, I am but a simpleton. Still, I am not one to begrudge anyone his or her reward for a job well done. While many liberals will wax apoplectic reading the commonplace story of how CEO Someone or another received a multimillion dollar bonus for off-shoring production and saving the company money, I don't. This is a free market economy, and these executives have a responsibility to the shareholders to generate profit. If they don't, they are soon replaced with someone who will. Putting myself in their shoes, and if my own means of supporting my family were on the line, I would also consider getting our sausage supply needs met in Honduras if it meant being able to better provide for my clan.

However, when I read about the case of the AIG executives, I nearly choked on my delicious strand of Honduran jerky. Here, in AIG, we have perhaps the largest group of incompetent or criminal individuals in the history of corporate America (no small claim), who, through greed and ignorance, very nearly took down the entire worldwide financial system. They then came asking for my tax dollars to be used to bail them out. Unfortunately, they made the accurate statement that since AIG was so vital to the whole system that the government could not afford to let them go under. I'd rather see my taxes being spent on things like national defense, paved roads and traffic lights, but I grudgingly acknowledged their point. But here is the outrageous part. With the money given to them by taxpayers, AIG chose to REWARD their top executives for a job well done. I can't even imagine how they thought this would play in the daily papers. These executives should be up on charges for financial malfeasance, not getting rewarded with my income taxes. The outrage was justifiably deafening. As of this morning, it was reported that AIG had agreed to repay slightly less than half of the bonuses. Too little, too late, says I. ALL of this money needs to be returned to the people at once. If the bozos at AIG manage to keep their jobs or escape incarceration, the most they deserve is a swift kick is in the ass, and must also make a sincere apology to the American people.