Solution for AIG Bonus Problem

AIG may pay its executives $160 million in bonuses. For what…screwing the company and the taxpayer alike? The idea that anybody could or should receive a bonus for mismanaging their corporation into taxpayer takeover is vile and repugnant, morally and ethically. Yet it’s a distinct possibility, and it might be obligatory.

For the sake of appearing noble before the media, Obama has climbed a populist high horse and, from tall atop the saddle, declared, “pursue every legal avenue to block these bonuses and make the American taxpayers whole.” That’s great, and I agree with my friend Tulsa Stagehand that it’s the right thing to advocate; but what if legal avenues are dead ends?

Roger Madoff of Politico asserts that surely we can find a lawyer, somewhere, to will claim the bonuses don’t have to be paid. Maybe so. But that doesn’t ameliorate the concern that the bonuses might have to be paid, anyway. If this is true, and the government assumed the contracts, and thus, is legally obligated to pay these bonuses, then it will have to happen.

In that unfortunate result, all hope is not lost for some form of real justice.

My solution is this: The President should get his butt back on that high horse and propose, in public, that all bonus money, plus the full amount of the resulting charitable tax deduction, be donated by the recipients to a disaster relief charity — say, the Red Cross. This must be a public calling-out, by name, of these shamelessly incompetent leeches, not a quiet, behind-the-scenes deal. After all, it’s public money at stake!

The AIG parasite-executives would be shown and listed on a website — the modern equivalent of immobilizing the cattle rustler in stocks and irons on the town square so he can’t hide his face, nor do anything else but sit there in shame under that red “THIEF” sign, as the townsfolk stroll by to look and ridicule. The site itself must be factual, though, whatever its actual impact. Their names and photos simply would be accompanied by the wholly true statement that so-and-so received $XX million AIG bonus money and did not donate it in full to charity, but instead, chose to keep it for him/her self. The site would not be prone to libel, since it would be stating nothing but documented fact. But the effect would be powerful — helpless display for public view in the digital town square.

There’s one reason why that solution is unlikely to happen. Look who gave Obama a $107,332 bonus of their own before this year…that’s right, AIG! To be fair, a number of others, including Bush, McCain and Kerry, also got bonuses from AIG. Both Democrats and Republicans litter the list of contribution recipients. But none of those others are President right now, calling for heads to roll among those who took bonus money! Looks like ol’ Barack has some ‘splainin’ to do from atop that horse, lest he fall out of the saddle and into a big ol’ mud-puddle of hypocrisy. The least he could do is give that money back (to the US Treasury now), right?



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