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.
March 17, 2009 at 4:11 pm
Well, first I think you meant AIG in your first sentence.
Second, I think AIG needs to be broken up. If it’s too big to fail, it’s also too big to live as the monopoly it obviously is. So…break it up. Force them to. Let the healthy parts go on. Bail *them* out if necessary.
That toxic, inept, derivatives unit needs to be isolated. And it can go bankrupt on it’s own without dragging what used to be the rest of the company down. Now, no one in the derivatives units should be getting bonuses for retention or performance or any other reason. They didn’t perform. And they are so inept they shouldn’t be retained either. In fact, publish all of their names (accompany them with the stupid decisions each made if possible) to ensure companies know who these morons are. Make them unemployable. As I’m sure even if they got jobs as janitors, they couldn’t even mop the floors or clean the toilets properly.
Anyone that utters “sanctity of contracts” is immediately fired with no severance and no pension. Plenty of every day Joes had the sanctity of their pensions and retirement violated and no one was bailing them out.
And if that isn’t sufficient…use the tax code. Why should Hedge Fund managers get their own cushy tax bracket? They can pay the same as the rest of us. More if possible. Put bonuses in a much higher tax bracket. They should be taxed at a much higher rate than a base salary.
AIG top executives should apologize and commit professional seppuku by resigning immediately. They should be replaced by appointees of the largest shareholders….gee….I think that’s US. And an immediate audit should take place. Any and all questionable practices should be exposed (with naming names) and if warranted, legal proceedings ensue. Including warrants.
Then tell Morgan Stanley and the rest…..”You’re next.”
March 18, 2009 at 3:04 pm
Can we really gey paid for giving our opinions? Doing paid surveys can help you to increase your income and it can be fun to do.
March 18, 2009 at 3:16 pm
Oh, Lord have mercy, but I love Arianna Huffington. How she manages to be droll with that lovely sing-song voice of hers is a marvel to me.
I ‘ve Decided to Move to Print… for a Day
Posted March 18, 2009 03:40 AM (EST) Arianna Huffington
The Story: The AIG Bonus Fight
“My Take: It’s a battle to see who is more tone-deaf: the AIG execs pushing for bonuses despite running the company into the ground or the members of the Obama administration who didn’t realize this would inspire such outrage.”
March 18, 2009 at 6:48 pm
Well, now Liddy is saying he’s asking those who got more than $100,000 to give half back. Big whoop.
I say…sue them ’til the sun don’t shine.
And if *I* were Supreme Dictator of the World for Life there would be no “hedge funds” and it would be illegal to sell short.
“Insurance” in any form would not be able to be “traded”. Neither would “mortgages”. And you couldn’t “hedge” mortgages”. Or insurance. Or anything.
As far as I’m concerned stocks should be based on a product. Like oranges or pork bellies. (Sorry, saw Trading Places over the weekend.) If it isn’t a tangible thing, you shouldn’t be able to buy and sell it. And you shouldn’t be able to sell something you do not own. Period. Stocks based on profits based on producing a tangible thing. Insurance and mortgages are not tangible things.
That is the root of all of this. It is “phantom money”. It doesn’t exist. Like those poor schmucks that paid taxes to the IRS based on Madoff’s phony statements. At least the IRS is doing the right thing and refunding them the taxes they paid on their imaginary earnings.
A lot of clean up (and regulation) needs to happen. It won’t be pretty and it is gonna hurt. And unfortunately those who Obama chose to delegate this to are NOT up to the job. He needs to clean house and start over. People not happy? Too bad.
I’m not real happy with Salazar either. (Another poor choice.) He’s already made his first big mistake with the wolves. I expect to hear more I am not happy with as time goes by.