I can certainly understand people getting outraged about the bonuses paid out to AIG employees. I mean, after all, that's our tax dollars, right? And AIG lost a ton of money, right? So why are people getting all this cash?
Believe me, the last thing I am is an apologist for a bunch of rich assholes who basically came up with new ways to fuck up our economy, but the bottom line here, at least as I understand it, is that these "retention bonuses," for good or ill, were promised to these employees early last year, before any of this shit blew up.
Now, I'm not happy about it, but fair is fair. If you were promised a million bucks to stay in your job until 12/31/08, and you held up your end of the deal, aren't you kind of owed that money?
Here's a good article explaining the whole thing.
The counter-argument, of course, is that without the taxpayer money, the company would have folded, and nobody would be getting any bonuses at all. That's just as valid a point. But the company's still around, for good or ill. I can't tell you how weird it feels to be arguing this side, but I'm just thinking out loud here.
2 more things. This whole business about taxing the bonuses at 90% just seems creepy and sort of Third World-y. Maybe it's constitutional and everything, but it just seems wrong.
And the other amusing thing is listening to the outrage of the right-wing radio hosts about anyone who dares to suggest that corporate executives make too much or that any millionaire should have any money taken away. And then these callers - who, I'm guessing, aren't millionaires at all but probably make about $40K a year - call in to agree with them!!!
To put it another way: Rush et al. have their (solidly middle-class, I'm thinking) listeners ANGRY about taking their tax dollars away from people who make more in a year than they'll make in a lifetime. What a country.