So AIG took the public money ($170 billion worth) and then gave executive bonuses ($165 million.) So what else is new? Lee “I Did It My Way (With A Paltry $1.2 Billion Dollar Government Loan)” Iacocca and his band of brothers did the same back in 1980. Hey, corporate executives just took billions in the peoples’ money to clean up after your economic incompetence. What are you going to do next? Screw Disneyland. Millions in bonuses for being smart enough to ask government for billions in bailouts are due. Break out the 1907 Heidsieck champagne for one and all. Let the little people sip the Cool Aid.
Obama blasts them. Pundits punish them. Comedians ridicule them. And average people start thinking that a return of the guillotine might be a more timely retro moment than the comeback in ‘80s fashions. But, for all the chest beating and hand-wringing AIG executives simply claim their hands are tied—contracts (the kind Corporate America loves to shred when they involve workers or consumers) force them to pay those huge bonuses out. Contracts they negotiated with themselves to pay themselves huge amounts of money which they now claim they must pay—and receive–the taxpayer be damned.
OK, so be it. You pays your money you takes your chances, taxpayers. Chuck Schumer’s idea that we’ll just tax it back is so much bluster—tax increases aimed at a handful of people will never clear the Senate, let alone the courts. So hang up those angry-tax-payer-we-want-a –lynching-suits, everyone.
And put on your angry shareholder suits, instead.
We the People are now the 80% shareholders of AIG. We the People purchased those shares under false pretenses and assumptions (lack of full disclosure and transparency, fraud, lies, call it whatever legalese is needed.) The government should launch an immediate shareholders lawsuit on behalf of We the People against the AIG management, board and each individual recipient of these bonuses for gross managerial negligence or whatever the shareholder lawyers bash misanthropic managers with.
Hirer the best, highest paid Shareholder Shysters the Treasury can afford, give them 10% of the take and let them loose like the starved wolves Harvard and Yale trained them to be. Tie those bonuses up in court until their would-be recipients are little old derivative managers. Go after their personal assets as civil penalties—let them see what its like to be foreclosed on, to have their limos repoed, their kids told there’s no money to send them to that nice school or for band lessons. Force a Board shuffle that results in everyone at the top, from CEO Hank Greenberg to Chairman Edward Liddy on down being fired for cause. Let them spend a few months/years in the ranks of the unemployed and property-less. It would be a crueler punishment than prison.
You don’t even have to carry through on the lawsuits. The threat alone, properly delivered (if anyone has a few extra horse heads their not using and would like to contribute them to a good cause…) might well shake the AIG gurus of galloping gall out of their “We are the Lords of all we survey” complacency.
And if they are so totally detached from reality as not to realize just how close to a French Revolution moment they have come, then go ahead and sue ‘em. Sue ‘em ‘til their eyes bleed, their wallets implode and they become the most reviled symbols of greed gone bad since Marie Antoinette.
Cry havoc and release the sharks of righteous litigation.