Thursday, March 19, 2009

Or maybe I'm completely wrong

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.

1 comment:

T 8==8 said...

Or maybe not completely wrong ... but I think mostly ;) I'm totally in support of honoring contracts - so long as they are made under the proper auspices and with proper transparency and integrity.

Bear with me in the following "parable." You're in the rough side of town, and in the market for a TV. You see a shady character selling TV's out of the back of box truck for a significantly discounted price. You walk over to him and bargain over the price and shake hands at $20 for a decent Sony Model 1234. Is that a contract? Sure, of sorts, in the sense that it is a business agreement. Do you know where that TV came from ... yes and no. You don't know exactly where it came from and you don't want to know really ... but you know *exactly* where it came from. A police man pulls up and orders you to give him the TV, providing you with proof that it is stolen property but you exclaim "Wait, this man and I had an agreement and I purchased this TV at a significantly discounted price." The police man says to you "Are you fucking kidding me? You knew full well this was stolen property when you bought it." And takes the TV back to it's owner.

Were you wronged? Was that contract made in good faith and integrity?

Call it a "discount" or a "bonus" or whatever you want, call it a "contract" or "business agreement" or whatever you want, call it "stolen property" or "taxpayer money" or whatever you want ... the story is still the same.

These people knew they were dealing in an opaque and unscrupulous manner without doing due diligence on the investments they were insuring, giving each other that special "wink" as they signed on the dotted line. They were greedy and knew they could tweak things to earn a fast buck(s)- it was lying then and it's lying now, contract or not.

A contract only means something if all the parties involved agree to the terms ... so where's my bonus?