(And by the best and the brightest, of course I mean the worst and the greediest.)
My blood has yet to stop boiling over this whole AIG bonus debacle, especially as more and more details come out. New York's Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, has been leading the charge against AIG for months now. His first letter to the company last October 15 reprimanded them on the first wave of excessive expenditures, including executive compensation, and demanded they cease and desist such irresponsible behavior. They obviously did not heed his warning.
When word spread over the weekend about the payment of $165 million in bonuses, Cuomo drafted and sent letter number two on Monday. In it, Cuomo states that AIG have agreed not to make any payments out of the “$600 million Financial Products deferred compensation pool.” Cuomo further demands that a list of the payees be on his desk by 4 p.m. that day or else subpoenas would be forthcoming.
Well, the list arrived and the blood boiled over. Rachel Maddow did a nice round-up of events and details last night:
Yes, you heard her right. On top of everything else, retention bonuses were paid to 11 people who no longer work there, all of whom were the actual idiots who drove the company into the ground, including one guy who took $4.6 million and then quit. Really?!?!
Mother Jones printed the breakdown today.
The top recipient received more than $6.4 million;
The top seven bonus recipients received more than $4 million each;
The top ten bonus recipients received a combined $42 million;
22 individuals received bonuses of $2 million or more, and combined they received more than $72 million;
73 individuals received bonuses of $1 million or more; and
Eleven of the individuals who received "retention" bonuses of $1 million or more are no longer working at AIG, including one who received $4.6 million.
This is where I want to scream and pound and explode with anger. Are these people so ethically bankrupt and utterly greedy that they will accept this money with absolutely no qualms or concerns? It seems so. Now that new AIG boss Edward Liddy has asked some of them to give the money back, some of them are willing to do the right thing. Some.
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(And I shout that sincerely.)
Many points are now being pointed out about how fantastically wrong this whole thing is, from the fact that the government owns nearly 80% of AIG so the taxpayers should be able to vote down the bonuses to the fact that the blue collar auto workers had to renegotiate their contracts so why shouldn't the white collar criminals to the fact that we shouldn't want to retain the people who ruined the company anyway. Good points, one and all.
But what, of any of this, is getting to the roots of the problem – the fact that free market capitalism breeds greed, the fact that our economic system favors swindlers, the fact that non-regulation and loopholes will always be taken advantage of by someone looking to make a quick buck and the rest of us are chumps.
Samantha Bee did a piece on Monday's The Daily Show that illustrates the point by looking at the art of short selling.