Sunday, March 22, 2009

Americans angered by fresh revelations about AIG's bonuses.

The unadulterated greed of AIG executives has already set off an almost unprecedented wave of anti-corporate anger in the US, with AIG executives claiming that the are under such threat that they are having to advise employees to travel in pairs.

Well, now it transpires that the bonuses which have caused such outrage have actually been under reported and that AIG have paid some 32% more in bonuses than we have previously been led to believe.

But now documents obtained by Richard Blumenthal, the attorney general of Connecticut, where AIG has offices, show the firm in fact has in fact paid out $218m in bonuses, 32% more than previously thought. The shocking news is certain to further inflame popular emotions against AIG, the financial sector as a whole and embattled Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

For many Americans AIG has become the unacceptable public face of the economic crisis. The AIG brand has in fact become so toxic that security guards have been placed outside the firm's offices and the homes of senior executives. Yesterday in Connecticut a group of protesters toured the state holding demonstrations outside houses owned by senior AIG management. They were hand-delivering a letter that asked for the executives to pay their bonuses back.

Many AIG executives have also faced death threats in the wake of bonus revelations as ordinary Americans, struggling in the face of the deepest economic crisis since the Depression, have wondered why financiers who helped cause the disaster should profit so much from it.

I have already noticed that some TV interviewers are attempting to belittle anyone who will take to the airwaves and share the public anger on this subject, with limited success.

The usual MSM line that people who complain are indulging in the politics of envy and other stock phrases are utterly missing the point here.

It is simply outrageous to reward such catastrophic failure with huge bonuses from the public purse. And the argument that such bonuses are contractual and, therefore, must be paid, don't change that fact.

Most of us operate in a work place where, if we fail, we get fired. It's the lack of that philosophy amongst the bankers which is causing such alienation between them and the general public.

But the notion that public money should be handed over to reward bankers who have caused such financial catastrophe really is taking the Robin Hood theory into reverse. We are now robbing the poor to feed the rich.

People are scandalised by this because what is taking place is scandalous. And no amount of name calling by the MSM will stop people seeing what is taking place for what it is: appalling corporate greed.

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