Throughout the day today, politicians and pundits were burning up the airwaves talking about AIG and executive bonuses. Because I’m impatient, because I’m on vacation . . . here’s my simple take:
Instead of looking into ways to recoup the money–if that’s really what should be done–through a special tax or some other measure heavy on government interference, perhaps our elected officials in Washington, D.C. should now engage in the long-overdue discussion about whether we should have sent an additional $130 billion to a company which posted a $61 billion loss in the fourth quarter of 2008.
See, instead of taking the fiscally conservative and responsible route and refusing to bail out the company in the first place (remember that we were told it was too important to fail), our government sent more good money after bad with all sorts of caveats and assurances and indeed promises–the latter not a strong suit of the Obama White House–that this time there would be oversight, that this time it would be different.
It’s like Chris Brown and Rihanna. We know he’s going to beat her up again, yet we watch helplessly as the same mistakes are being made.
We knew this was going to happen. In fact, Sen. Christopher Dodd, who took more campaign money from AIG than anybody else, ensured it would happen with an eleventh hour amendment snuck into the “stimulus” package, a provision which specifically made an exception for bonuses contracted upon prior to February 11, 2009. In other words, the man who took more campaign donations from AIG than anyone else enabled AIG to send out the checks despite wicked nonperformance.
Incidentially, while Dodd accepted $103,000 in campaign cash from AIG in 2008, he only beat the guy below him on the list by a little less than two thousand dollars. The second guy on the list? Barack Obama, who accepted more than $101,000 in donations from AIG.
So, to conclude this exercise, the answer is simple: STOP the madness, and stop it now.