Stop the War on Success!

By Robert Wallace
America’s Right

As a married man, I hear the phrase “I told you so” a lot more than I get to use it. Therefore, when I do get to use it, I relish the opportunity.

So, to anyone who thought that the mob frenzy wouldn’t drive talent out of AIG — I told you so. To anyone who thought innocent people wouldn’t bear the cost of this insanity — I told you so. To anyone who thought that legislating out of anger wouldn’t come back to bite us in the butt both culturally and financially — yeah, I told you so.

I’m referring to a letter of resignation from AIG executive Jake DeSantis to AIG CEO Edward Liddy published in full in yesterday’s New York Times. DeSantis works in the infamous Financial Products division, but he has never sold nor in any way profited from any business related to credit default swaps. He was raised by middle-class parents–school teachers–and attended MIT on a scholarship before starting as an equity trader at AIG in 1998. After 11 years, he had risen through the ranks to the head of business development for commodities, a unit that consistently made AIG profits in the neighborhood of $100 million.

In the past 12 months, DeSantis has played an integral role in selling AIG business units. These sales earn money for AIG which, in turn, is used to keep the company afloat (so that American tax dollars used to bail the company out won’t be entirely wasted) and eventually to even pay taxpayers back. He agreed to have his salary cut to $1 based on repeated promises from Mr. Liddy that his bonus–about $700,000 after taxes–would remain intact.

As a result, he understandably felt betrayed by the company for which he’d worked for more than a decade when Liddy failed this week to defend his employees before Congress. And he understandably felt betrayed by his country when Liddy’s request that executives return their bonuses–in some cases, their entire salary!–under threat of having Congress tax their bonus at 90 percent and New York or Connecticut attorneys general revealing their names and their families’ home addresses.

DeSantis decided he’d had enough. He’s quitting — and he’s quitting under his own terms. He is not returnig his bonus, but he has promised to donate every single penny, with documentation, to charities working directly to help those effected by the recent downturn. Of course, there might not be much of his bonus left by the time Congress is done converting our tax code into a financial Inquisition, but the principle of the gesture remains.

He has a unique perspective on just how corrosive government attempts to “help” can be, writing:

That is why I have decided to donate 100 percent of the effective after-tax proceeds of my retention payment directly to organizations that are helping people who are suffering from the global downturn. This is not a tax-deduction gimmick; I simply believe that I at least deserve to dictate how my earnings are spent, and do not want to see them disappear back into the obscurity of A.I.G.’s or the federal government’s budget. Our earnings have caused such a distraction for so many from the more pressing issues our country faces, and I would like to see my share of it benefit those truly in need.

After reading this article, it became more clear than ever that liberals need to stop this war on success. Because that’s really what’s going on here. DeSantis is a man who lived the American dream. He did not come from privilege or wealth, but through hard work and sacrifice he became an extremely successful business executive. He bears no responsibility for the fall of AIG, and obviously his family is blameless as well. His work in a profitable section of AIG has helped soften the blow of failure in other sections, and he’s sacrificed time and money for his company.

What did he do wrong? Nothing.

And yet he’s the target for the three-ring circus on Capitol Hill, as vicious, spineless politicians violate the Constitution to take his entire year’s salary. He’s the target of posturing attorneys general more interested in their careers than the law they are supposed to uphold. He’s the brunt of clueless, populist American outrage.

Let’s get this straight once and for all: Jake DeSantis is not the problem with the American economy. He is the solution. Obama used the divisive rhetoric of class warfare and “social justice” to get elected. Now that he’s president, he realizes that these policies are detrimental to the American economy and has called for silence. It’s too late. Like a teenage pyromaniac, he stoked the flames and now the fire is out of control. What we’re seeing in America is nothing less than a war on success — a self-destructive impulse to obliterate the very cornerstones of American prosperity: hard work, sacrifice, ingenuity, and liberty.

It’s time for this war to stop. DeSantis is not the problem. He’s not the enemy. Forget ACORN-sponsored bus tours of these executives’ homes: we know where the enemy can be found. It’s not Connecticut and it’s certainly not New York.

—————
Robert Wallace has been writing for America’s Right since December 2008.

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Robert, I agree with your article, but only in part. Here’s why:
    While I believe that we shouldn’t demonize those that are successful…a close friend of the family has a company that did have 800 employees before this debacle, and has worked 6-7 days a week for almost 30 yrs…and deserves his success…but, look…we need to remember that hard work doesn’t necessarily equate ethics and principles. Yes, I said it. You say he didn’t have anything to do with the downfall or the problem end of the company, but I would remind you that this company that he works for is receiving taxpayer money to keep itself afloat. A point you acknowledge, and one we all are aware. So, in light of that, he…and here’s my issue…he opts for a $1 salary…how noble…BUT, only with the promise that he deserves and should get $700k of our money? Because he is so hardworking and has nothing to do with it? Are you kidding me? Not only that, but it’s not fiscally responsible to take 700k of taxpayer money…it’s the exact opposite of what success in capitalism is all about. The problem doesn’t lie in the fact that he is being demonized for being successful through his abilities. The problem lies in the fact that he knows that that money comes out of the pockets of his fellow Americans who are…most of us…getting far much less of a salary, and some, not at all. The right thing to do, in the name of principle, integrity, and ethics, (which is something else this country stands for first and foremost…it’s not all about consumerism, markets, materialism, and who deserves what)would have been to deny that amount, and accept only his salary because he knew that any earnings weren’t from success in the capitalist free-market sense. Even better, submit to receiving a pay-cut considering so many other Americans are doing that. But, of course, that is so they can keep their jobs in companies that still function in the private sector and that makes fiscal sense. No bailouts means finding ways to stay afloat.
    Again, the guy is getting paid out of tax money…not out of the free-market system, and the ability of this company to function on its own. If that were the case, then by all means, he deserves the bonus. In no way should these bonuses be compared to what Washington is doing with trillions and trillions of spending, either. (And, let me also duly note, DC legally gave him the money). Personally, I am far less concerned about the 200 million in bonuses, and I am far more concerned about the ACORN minions who are harrassing them and threatening them. They should, and do deserve, to have privacy and respect as far as that is concerned. Mob mentality is never in order. So, my disagreement lies mostly with politicians who allowed for all of this to happen. AIG did get those bonuses legally. Sure, this guy has every legal right to keep it. But, is it ethical? The focus needs to be on Washington, but I would argue, that even if this guy didn’t have anything to do with the problem, he did take the money. It’s the principle of the matter. If it were me, I couldn’t do that in good conscience. And that is why I disagree with portions of your article.
    Again, it’s not about demonizing success. It’s about thinking of your fellow Americans, and realizing that even if you worked hard, you aren’t getting payment from the success of the company because the company can’t stay afloat without wasted taxpayer dollars. Even if a huge systemic fall-out would’ve happened, I say they should have been allowed to fail. It’s better to take the hit now, get past it within the free-markets…not the government. That’s true capitalism, right there. Basically, this guy was wasting his potential on a failing company knowing that the leadership he was working under did not deserve that hard-work and knowing that anything he earned was not due to any success of that company, and it would come from WE THE PEOPLE. I don’t feel sorry for him. I don’t demonize success. I respect success, and I respect those who earn it ethically with principle. I’m not saying he’s a bad guy. I’m just saying that it wasn’t a good business decision on his part, wasn’t very principled,and the money wasn’t earned in the way that we interpret as earned from success through capitalism. So, he doesn’t have much of voice with me. Actually, AIG is simply a distraction as far as I’m truly concerned. I have rarely addressed the issue thus far, except this article made me feel like I needed to bring another thought to the table.

  2. Gail B says:

    I am glad that former the AIG VP-FP’s letter is receiving so much exposure because Mr. Santis really spells out the truth to the citizens of this country. I appreciate his letter.

    It is a shame and a disgrace that a government would tax certain people at a higher rate (90 percent) than others simply out of anger.

    I learned a long time ago that people who seek to control are out of control. If that applies to the DC Mafia, so be it.

  3. BlueWater says:

    “Like a teenage pyromaniac” – I know you meant this figuratively, but fires will burn, literally. You are right to blame the administration, as well as every other politician that led us to this point – promising everything, delivering catastrophe, thereby resulting in chaos. The riots of 1968-9 will seem trivial in comparison.

  4. rdansie says:

    Robert,

    That was a wonderful article. I was incredibly disturbed by Obama, Geithner and Congress, getting all self-rightious on us and using their outrage and the publics to deflect from where the actual blame should be.

    I loved the letter from DeSantis, because it was such a clear explanation of what actually transpired. It appeared that quite a few websites had it as their headline. Hopefully, many people experienced an awakening after reading it. Anyone, that didn’t is already too far gone.

    O/T Gail B: I noticed the Chihuahua on your link. I think you’ll like this story.
    http://tinyurl.com/depqsc

  5. Anonymous says:

    It’s appalling that our government is in the process of demonizing success. The AIG “outrage” is the most disgusting/dishonest display I can recall – if anyone gets hurt because of the lying/cover up, there will be real consequences. I cannot begin to describe my disgust.

  6. tm says:

    Robert you nailed it – I like you have said I told you to many of late and I personally enjoy it.
    How do you find talent, or new ideas YOU REWARD THE EFFORT, not strangle it at the root.

    PS : Reagan vs. Obama
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FR5MweSZjbc&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fiowntheworld%2Ecom%2Fblog%2F%3Fpage%5Fid%3D6&feature=player_embedded

  7. Anonymous says:

    I know that I’m repeating this, but I think that it’s important for people to know the origin of what is going on.

    If you Google “Obama/Socialist Party membership” you will find many postings about his ostensible (he denies this) membership in the “New Party” in Illinois in the ’90′s. You will find a copy of an article in the New Party’s paper stateing that one of their
    successful candidates” in the 1996 election (to the State Senate) was Obama.

    If you search this further, you will find that one of the stated goals of the “New Party “(read; “Socialist”), was to “democratize” the banking and financial system. Now, you tell me what “democratize” means if not “take over”.

    It looks like that is playing out pretty well for the Obama adminstration, doesn’t it?

  8. Robert Wallace says:

    @ anonymous (the one whose response is longer than my article!)

    I disagree emphatically with your premise that he took $700k of taxpayer money. He worked for a division of AIG that is profitable. He earned his bonus.

    I also disagree emphatically that we should expect him to not receive money because the government bailed out AIG. Is he the CEO? Did he have any say in whether or not his company would accept that money? No. He didn’t. It’s unethical to hold him responsible for things outside of his control: such as whether or not his CEO accepts bailout money.

    Don’t get me wrong: this could all have been avoided by either refusing to bail out AIG, or insisting on upfront renegotiation of all contracts if they accepted the bailout money. Either of these steps would have averted the problem, and DeSandis (and every other AIG employee) could have decided to accept a new contract or not.

    But that’s not what happened, and if I was in DeSandis’s shoes I’d be doing exactly what he’s doing. It’s not his job to fall on his sword because OTHER people screwed up at AIG or because OTHER people at AIG accepted government bailout money.

  9. Maria says:

    “After reading this article, it became more clear than ever that liberal need to stop this war on success” I agree with you, to me it seems that the liberals want to punish the success of hard working people. The problem with the socialist agenda of the government is that they want everybody else to do their part, but when it comes to them doing their part (I mean paying taxes) they always find a way around.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The whole World are stunned to disbelieve, that in – America the greatest, starting from the president down senate and house members can pass a law without reading it first. Same here at home,beside of the close minded idiots, we are stunned too.It is worst than any 3-rd country. Sorry, I forget, maybe in Kenya is possible. What is worst, they can even see their incompetence. Can you imagine??? they are mad and angry blaming others and not themselves.Honore de Balzac ” The Human Comedy” fits very well.

  11. THAT WASCAL BARNEY says:

    This photo is priceless. Dodd looking on dismissively as Barney Frank shares his last dates dimension.

  12. Jan says:

    Robert
    Another great piece! I am comforted when I come here and find there are still some intelligent individuals left in this country.
    @anonymous – I wholeheartedly agree with Robert’s response to your post. This is not about the non-decision makers of the company. They go along with the decisions or they leave, as he is wisely doing now. This would not even be a problem were it not for the bailout, or the bailout without conditions. Besides, this is a blip on the radar screen in comparision to the amount being wasted and spent unwisely in whole. The government is raping the wallets of the American citizens and they just keep coming back for more. Disgraceful.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Enough of all the toing and froing with certain factions targeted as scapegoats. Frankly Congress owes these companies. They owe them because THEY were the ones who mandated this destructive activity that would never have been put into action by the lending institutions if not ordered to do so. If the public can so easily be led to focus on a few convenient scapegoats and begin the unbelievable harrassment of families, then it’s up to others to start screaming for prison terms for the main actors in Congress who were the real culprits for all these failures. Get the focus on Frank and Dodd – seriously. We conservatives never seem to scream as loud as the thugs who are coming after us. Be disruptive enough to get that focus recognized by the public. Start screaming for the impeachment of the real culprits.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Honestly, a little myopic.

    Cry me a river.

    Follow the money.

    This is as empty as Buffet’s donations.

    It would be encouraging to not be so quick to judge.

    google search the blogs, just like this one, they are all over this.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Oh, so what Robert? Who cares if my response is longer than your article? I guess I worked harder on thinking about it than you did.
    I was trying to nicely respond to what I disagree with on your stance. Sounds like a liberal response from you…one that can’t stand dissent or disagreement…so, instead, you have to try to insult and call me out for having a long-winded response? I did agree with you on some points, as I said…but noooooooooo, you have to attack me with your defensiveness? LOL…
    Okay…well, how’s this for a short answer? GET OVER YOURSELF!
    EINTX

  16. Anonymous says:

    Robert,
    Here’s an offer to debate this a little, and hopefully you can respond without trying to insult me in public. I disagreed with you, politely, and you called me out by saying “…to anon…the one whose response is long than my article”. So glad Jeff doesn’t do that, but anyway. It’s lengthy…hope you enjoy it.
    You said:
    “He worked for a division of AIG that is profitable. He earned his bonus”.
    RESPONSE: If it is profitable, then why are they using bailout money to give him his earnings?

    “I also disagree emphatically that we should expect him to not receive money because the government bailed out AIG”.
    RESPONSE: His earnings should be honored per contract in March 08. The contract was not renegotiated; therefore, it is unConstitutional to violate that now. Point of my argument: Go ahead and take the money. Legally he has a right. But know this, even if a contract doesn’t change, business plans do, and sometimes they fail. Things drastically changed around him, but he chose to stay on and hammer away. Why? Was it because he knew the contract was still stood? He knew that the bailout was there to get? But, wait…you said the division he worked for was profitable. So, why does he need bailout money? Did he or did he not earn it without using tax money? It’s simple.
    Also you said…
    “It’s unethical to hold him responsible for things outside of his control…”
    RESPONSE: Hmmm…he still had control of his own personal destiny and decisions, man. Come on…Can you tell me that once things started turning up as to what those CEO’S , and let’s face it…many lower divisions contributed to the bad practices and stupid fiancial decisons as well…can you tell me that he wasn’t aware of the fraud around him? He had control. He had a right to say, “This sucks. I don’t want to be part of a company whose reputation is going down the toilet for fraud and corruption. That could reflect on me, fairly or unfairly. I don’t want earn handout money. Hmmm…I’m good at what I do. I earn ‘x’ amount of dollars…” No, the govt. money guaranteed his 700k and kept him not having to invest in finding something else. Period. So, the taxpayer bailout money was his guarantee to his contract. Or do I stand corrected that his division was profitable, and he didn’t take the money? You’re response is confusing.
    My overall point was…like many others in the company…give it up or take less based on principle and ethics. It’s called sacrifice, Robert. Nobody said he had to “fall on his sword”. Good grief…tone down the drama. Let’s not make the guy a martyr.

    “OTHER people screwed up…OTHER people accepted the bailout money” Am I missing something here? Was he not accepting the bailout money?
    He finally chose to leave. Why? Because somebody “threw him under the bus”? Well, sorry man…that’s what happens when you hang around unscrupulous people. My dad always said, “You are who you hang around”. Doesn’t matter if you’re the shady one or not.

    So, apparently you have a problem with my “principles and ethics” portion of the argument. What say you?

  17. Anonymous says:

    According to Ann Coulter in her colulmn today, “Senator Chris Dodd included language in the stimulus bill allowing executives of the bailed-out banks to collect million dollar bonuses”. Then, we hear an outcry from Obama about executives getting bonuses! Every day I find it harder and harder to trust those in the Obama administration and the Democrats in the House and Senate.

  18. Robert Wallace says:

    @ anon (the one that feels personally insulted)

    I’m sorry you took my comment as an insult. As someone who has been accused of verbosity many, many times it was meant in a spirit of friendly joking. One bloviator to another.

    As far as your points go:

    “RESPONSE: If it is profitable, then why are they using bailout money to give him his earnings?”

    I’m afraid that statement is incoherent. Money is a fungible asset. There’s no way to say that his money is or is not coming from the bailout. It’s not like we identify the dollar bills by serial number and track where they go. There aren’t even physical dollar bills in play here.

    My comment saying he wasn’t getting bailout money is simply meant to indicate that his business contributed more than it took away. Even including his bonus, the impact of him at AIG overall was a net *positive*. He didn’t take bailout money because he didn’t take *ANY* money. Like any good employee he provided more value to AIG then he took in compensation.

    “RESPONSE: Hmmm…he still had control of his own personal destiny and decisions, man.”

    Imagine it this way. You work at a company that owns 5 factories. You manage a factory that is profitable. One of the other factories is managed by an idiot who burns the factory down. The government gives money to rebuild the other factory. Your factory continues to make money as usual. Should you give up your salary – even though your factory makes money for the company – just because some idiot burned down a different factory? And just because the CEO accepted gov’t money for it? You’re doing your job and your factory is making the company money. You get to keep your paycheck.

    That’s how I see it, anyway.

    “My overall point was…like many others in the company…give it up or take less based on principle and ethics.”

    His salary was reduced to $1. That *is* taking less.

    “Nobody said he had to “fall on his sword”. Good grief…tone down the drama. Let’s not make the guy a martyr. “

    Working 10 – 12 hour days for a year for free seems pretty much like “falling on your sword”. That’s just what he did. He made $1 in salary, and his entire bonus (after tax) is being donated.

    “He finally chose to leave. Why? Because somebody “threw him under the bus”? Well, sorry man…that’s what happens when you hang around unscrupulous people.”

    So – to be clear – you think every single AIG employee has a moral obligation to walk out on their job and never go back? Is that what you’re saying? Damn the cost to them, their families, and (quite frankly) the country?

    “So, apparently you have a problem with my “principles and ethics” portion of the argument. What say you?”

    I say that I hope – given my explanation about my joke – that we can be a bit friendlier in our next exchange.

    There are plenty of liberal policies to bash. Let’s not bash each other.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I accept your explanation, but let me just say that the written word is interpreted a whole lot more differently than had I actually heard your joking manner. Unless you add “just kidding”, or “lol”, or one of those silly little “:)” next to the statement, it doesn’t translate into a joke very well. Now, to be fair (which is such a nasty little word these days), I asked a couple of people if it sounded like I was being insulted and called-out, and I got “yes” both times. I’ll be sure to explain what you meant. Another fairness issue…on your behalf…when I saw my post I thought, “What? Did I write all that? Geez, I don’t even care about AIG that much…poor Jeff and Robert”. The decision was immediately made to stay away from the keyboard when I am operating on 4 hrs. of sleep and slipping into a stream-of-consciousness. Which would be one reason I can’t argue “fungible” this late. I don’t have the strength to go up against a mathematical/systems engineer/business analyst/blogger. It wouldn’t be a fair fight. I was trying to explain “principle” views, and you got all “fungible” with me. Too tired… :) I just want to be sure that I get the point across that I get what you’re saying, and agree to the “no bashing” rule…but you started it…okay, all right…seriously, I apologize for the unfriendly retort.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I imagine all of the regular visitors have moved on to other articles, so I’ll probably be talking to myself, but the reason that we are irrevocably moving towards socialism is so obvious that it bears repeating.

    The problem was voiced by one of the callers to Obama’s on-line “town hall”. The caller questioned when “those jobs that have been shipped overseas would be coming back?” Obama then referred to those “low wage” jobs as being lost permanently, which is true. But those “low wage” jobs (read “manufacturing”) are the ones that created the prosperous middle class all during the 20th century in the U.S.

    Those jobs are lost as a result of two factors, neither of them being nefarious or greedy actions of the American manufacturers.

    The first is the the disparity between the standards of living between the U.S. and third-world countries. That disparity, which drives the wage/cost structure, results in the lower costs at off-shore manufacturers. If you want those jobs back, be prepared to lower your standard of living to parity with China and India (or at least with non-union “transplants” in the U.S.).

    Secondly, the attempt to artificially maintain the higher standard of living drives U.S. manufacturers off-shore because the U.S. buyers (that’s you and me) have clearly demonstrated that we operate on the basis of self-interest, not altruism. Hence, as a manager of a manufacturing business, you quickly learn that you have no choice; you access the lower-wage labor market or close your doors because the American buyer will always choose the equivalent lower-cost product, regardless of where it’s manufactured.

    I could (and probably have) gone on and on, but everything that the U.S. government does to support non-competitive manufacturing industries (read “big three auto intustry with union-wage jobs”) the faster the “export” of jobs to lower standard of living labor pools will be. Once the government starts to interfere with free-market forces, their only choice is to errect trade barriers to keep the lower cost products out, and, as history shows, those inevitably result in wars – both trade and “hot”.

    That’s just what a “global economy” does, so welcome to the “One world future of the U.S. But beware; a one-world economy demands a one-world standard of living. That, my friends, is going to be very, very, painful, and will require that the government “manage” everything in you life.

    Old Bob

  21. Anonymous says:

    Robert…Okay, my point about the whole issue of bonuses and AIG wasn’t to agree with “punishing success”. The fact of the matter is is that if this company doesn’t want the taxpayer having an opinion about these bonuses, then don’t come to us for money. The incentive for this individual you are talking about, since he chose to stay, is to get the government out!!! Working hard to restructure, get the corruption out, and going on to pay the taxpayer back, that’s fine. But, in these times, and with the average person making sacrifices and supporting companies like AIG, then a good message to send to the “clueless American populous”, that you refer, would be to live on less. There is nothing…absolutely nothing…wrong with making grand amounts of money (as a supporter of the capitalist free-market system), but the problem lies in where the source of those bonuses comes. All I’m saying is that 700k in a bonus could be scaled down. The rest of us are being asked to do that. Also, the argument that you presented as those funds being “fungible” is…first…tangible. It comes out of taxpayers wallets. Then it becomes fungible, and then it becomes tangible again. Make sense? Fungible is essentially hiding behind massiveness, and that is what I’m understanding as the problem being here with AIG, and others. The fact that it can’t be traced, as you mentioned, is what I understand as being the problem that got us into this mess in the first place. Now, you pointed to parts of AIG as being successful, and you mentioned that that is where this gentleman worked…then you gave some description of warehouses burning down and CEO’S taking bailout money to rebuild that building. Robert…let’s keep this in perspective. First of all, most companies don’t get bailout money to rebuild burned-out buildings (that’s what insurance is for and I assume AIG has plenty of that), and if they do, that is a systemic issue that will in some way affect other portions of the company in those different buildings.
    You also pointed to my statement about leaving the company. You said that I was implying that all employees of this company had a moral obligation to leave their jobs. Well, I was talking about this particular person you are bringing to our attention. As far as the people within the company, at lower…much lower…positions and those who do not have a say as to the decisions of CEO’s and top executives, such as this man, I would venture to guess that they don’t feel it’s right either. They are taxpayers too, don’t forget. The fact is is that most of these people probably weren’t aware of the corruption or the business decisions that were bringing this company down. So, let’s leave them out of this, please.
    I am pointing to this man who chose to stay. If decisons were being made to restructure and fix the corruption or the irresponsible decisions, then fine…stay on and work to pay the taxpayer back. If that is his purpose for staying, well, okay then. But, I would also guess that even if he was part of a division that was profitable, you can’t make me believe that he didn’t know what was going on in other parts of the company. Are you saying that he doesn’t associate, conference with, and discuss business practices, etc., with other executives in different divisions…within the company? One division doesn’t affect the other? Let’s put it this way…a football team may have the potential for success to win the Superbowl; however, if one player…such as the quarterback throwing interceptions one after the other…makes monumental mistakes, it will bring the whole team.
    Another thing you said, that really bothered me as a person who cares about others AND THIS COUNTRY…you asked if I was saying “be damned to their families and the country?” My gosh…that’s NOT at all what I was saying. Just the opposite. This man apparently made enough salary, and had enough savings to fall back on, that when the pressure was on, he could afford to give up his bonus…and donate it to charity. So, to say that is to confuse the point.
    We have given AIG billions and billions because of bundled mortgages they were insuring that turned toxic and failed. There is a whole host of reasons why AIG failed and had to come to the government for a bailout. The bonuses are only a small portion of that, I understand. I was only trying to point to the excess. As I mentioned, the goal shouldn’t be to make scores of money through bonuses. It should be to get the damn government out of everything. Sacrifice your huge bonus…take less…when the company turns around, and it’s paid back, then by all means make as much as you want. Just don’t do it out of my wallet, claim it’s fungible, and then make it tangible again when it’s paid out to executives in bonuses…even if the money is fungible, they wouldn’t have it in the first place if the taxpayer didn’t give it to them to mix into a huge pool of fungibility. Period.
    And, I can’t drive this home enough…if AIG hadn’t made really bad business decisions, affecting all portions of the company as we see now…you know, now that we have the White House in a position to fire CEO’S…that AFFECTS the “cluelss American populous” that you refer. They shouldn’t have given the government the opportunity to get in there in the first place!!!!!! Now that they are, then by gosh, if they don’t want the taxpayer to have a say, and the president pushing us toward socialism…then get your act together because we’re all under socialism due to crap such as this. You’re dang right I’m gonna call them out on it, because in my humble opinion, they got us here in the first place!!! Fix it, first! In the whole scheme of the issues caused by companies such as this, those bonuses are minor, I realize. I only addressed that because you wrote an entire article on it. You claim it’s punishing success. I claim it will, yes, if these guys don’t get back to place where they can quit asking the American people for money, and take us all down with them if they don’t get it. Ridiculous. Why should they get huge bonuses when owned 80% by this “clueless American populous?” Have some principle, take less of a bonus or salary, or whatever…that’s all I am saying. And don’t say he did…he didn’t until much much later! But, when they can prove that, stand on their own without taxpayer help, then by all means “go for it” and make whatever you want. I’m just saying, “why should I have to pay for a new Lexus when you’re putting me in a used 2000 model due to the fact that my wallet is a whole lot thinner because of companies such as theirs?” If that makes me a punisher of success, then I can’t argue any further. Again, 80% of the company is now in “taxpayer” hands being touted as “investments” and I don’t want any part of that phony scheme. We need to get back to capitalism, but capitalism with greed and corruption that brought it down to begin with.

  22. Robert Wallace says:

    @ Anonymous

    Couple of points:

    1. You keep saying he should have taken less. The tricky thing is that “less” is a relative term. He already reduced his salary to $1. How much would he have had to cut out to satisfy you?

    2. You also refer to AIG asking for tax payer money. I can’t speak to whether AIG asked or not, but I can state that many institutions are getting the money whether they want it or not. And a lot of them don’t. I know personally of at least one president of a (successful, even at this time) mortgage company who was forced to take the cash – and the gov’t oversight that comes with it. We can’t presume to know if AIG asked for it – or was “given” it at the point of a gun.

    3. You also say you can’t believe that he was unaware of the practices that were going on. I’m not sure why you believe this. I’m sure he was aware that they were selling contracts as counter-party to mortgage-backed securities, but to actually know that this was a disaster in the making he’d have to have done quite a bit of research that – if he was a busy executive at all – he simply would not have had the time to do.

    4. You also say that he should have been working to “fix it”. He was. His job responsibility for the last year has been to sell off AIG business units. This is a job that:
    - requires a lot of expertise
    - contributes *directly* to paying back the taxpayer money

    The fact is that no amount of fixing the AIG business model is going to be able to return $150b in any reasonable amount of time. If the taxpayers are going to see their money back AIG has to sell business units. So not only was he contributing, he was contributing directly in the only meaningful effort to pay US taxpayers back.

    The whole debate we’re having is weird because I’m trying to argue for how Americans should be reacting within the context of policies I don’t agree with in the first place.

    Should AIG have been bailed out? I honestly don’t know. My inclination is “no”, but I don’t feel 100% confident in the repercussions of what that would have brought to the rest of the country. I do, however, feel that *if* they were bailed out the *least* we could do was have much more transparency in the process and sacrifice that is (in principle at least) commensurate with responsibility.

    All of that is a separate issue, however. What we’ve got here is populist outrage being misdirected at a bunch of scapegoats. DeSandis’s guilt – if any at all – is minimal compared to what he’s paid. He has not only lost his job and entire year’s salary – but he worked for free anyway. The families of him and his fellow AIG workers have been threatened by ACORN-funded “protesters”. The constitution has been spat upon by legislators intent on personal gain.

    And all of this has been put to serve the greater agenda of Barack Obama to reshape our limited republic in the form of a modern socialist regime.

    We can’t organize a successful defense from Obama’s policies if we allow ourselves to be enraged at folks who may very well be innocent and at worst are nothing but small-time distractions from the real threat.

    (As far as the question of tone goes: you’re right. I should have been more clear.)

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