AIG, too big to fail, propped up with another infusion of cash from the coffers of the U.S. Treasury. $170 billion of tax payer dollars that is suppose to prevent a catastrophic disaster. Instead of being grateful and humble, AIG executives prove once again the disconnect between the high powered business world and the working world. No “we really appreciate your help”. Just more excuses to justify millions of dollars in bonuses for them. Perhaps it’s time to call their bluff and let them fail. By handing out bonuses, AIG and other companies who find nothing wrong with it, are creating an atmosphere that makes it harder for congress to justify and approve more money down the road that would be intended to help them. Why should they get more?
The inner workings of business and finance are being exposed as window dressings made out of money deteriorates. Companies left too long with no one watching the store. A domino effect that has left our economy shattered and hanging by a thread. High stakes greed created a whirl wind with the force of an F5 tornado that has swept down from the corporate headquarters wiping out 401Ks, leaving small business and regular consumers out in the cold and essentially shutting down our economy. All the while, the people who sent this economic mudslide roaring down the mountain arrogantly and greedily cash their bonus checks with a smug satisfaction of business as usual. So what if it’s tax payers dollars. They have contracts and the company dare not break said contracts over fears those who don’t pocket bonuses may leave. Where are they going to go? You can bet they won’t be flipping burgers at McDonald’s or scanning your cans of Spam at the grocery store.
We, the American tax payer, get it. We do understand what’s at stake, but that doesn’t mean we have to be happy about it. The companies we have been bailing out obviously don’t. We have been told the only way to save ourselves requires handing out our hard earned money to save the likes of AIG. Big businesses and financial companies who have lived high on the hog for so many years, they can’t see their toes for their inflated waistlines. Executives who think nothing of holding out a hand and expecting tax payers to ante up so they can continue their arrogant, extravagant lifestyles and business practices. All the while smacking the American people along side the head with the other hand. Instead of receiving bonuses, everyone who contributed to our declining economy should be fired. End of story.
AIG plans to award executives another round of bonuses. $165 million. For what? A job well done? If you are confused as to what constitutes a job well done; you aren’t alone. In the real working world, if you played a part in running the company you work for into the ground, you don’t receive a bonus. You receive a pretty little pink slip on your way out the door.
Where was AIG when the people of New Orleans attempted to collect on insurance policies underwritten by AIG after Katrina pounded the city with Gulf Coast waters? The people who dutifully paid their monthly premiums with a guarantee their property would be protected. We have gotten use to hearing how insurance companies aren’t there for policy holders after a natural disaster (hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires). Every trick in the book is dug up in their attempt to break their contract to policy holders. Yes, it is a contract. We pay you each month for protection. You take our money agreeing to provide said protection. That’s a contract. AIG, among others, didn’t seem to have a problem trying to scheme their way out of paying on claims after a storm of the century. Yet, they can’t figure out how to break a contract to reward bad decisions that brought their company to their knees. That’s because they don’t want to.
AIG justifies the intended bonus payments by assuring the government they will scale back 2009 bonuses by 30%. We are told these bonuses have to be paid because of legal obligations of the company. What about moral obligations to the country and their shareholders? Rewarding failed leadership demonstrates AIG’s lack of understanding and only accentuates what appears to be fat cat greed regardless of job performance. One of several companies, who are now considered to be too big to let fail. Companies who rejected and lobbied against oversight from outside sources. Some of the very people who helped create this pot of boiling goo now expect their contracts to be full filled come hell or high water.
Edward Liddy, AIG Chairman and CEO, saysthat if the company doesn’t honor their agreement to top executives, they will have trouble attracting and keeping the best people in the business. If these executives are the best, why did the company fail? Why are they asking us for our money? Liddy complains his employees would be concerned the government will interfere with and limit bonuses. He contends this could be detrimental in retaining qualified executives. If AIG had failed and the executives had lost their jobs, would they still have walked away with millions of dollars in bonuses? Would AIG have honored those contracts then? Contracts are broken all the time. The auto workers were forced to renegotiated their contracts in order to receive bailout money. Why not AIG executives?
The American people know how to sacrifice. When money is tight, the last thing you do is buy expensive furniture while remodeling or go on a fancy retreat or vacation. We don’t have a cash cow that will bail us out and our only option is to hunker down, cut costs and wait for the storm to pass. We now have companies and banks who are in an elite class where the common wisdom is, these mega corps are too big to fail. Perhaps we should take our lumps, let them fail and come out on the other side with smaller, more manageable companies once the dust settles.