Friday, March 20, 2009


Reactions have poured in from all quarters to this week's revelations of AIG's $100 million-plus retention incentives, and rather than end up as another decibel added to the cacophany, I've been content to mostly sit this one out and chew popcorn on the sidelines. Mostly. While naturally the news of these bonuses coupled with the several billions of taxpayer funds keeping the company afloat has led to a few raised eyebrows, the sense I have is that the outrage over this is more of that old political opportunism than actual, y'know, outrage.

Nevertheless, in attempting to take as broad a view of this is as possible, it seems the one thing there's a surplus of in this whole thing is blame. Of that, there's gobs to go around, starting with a lack of transparency on the part of AIG (though, as we'll see explicated below, I hate referring to AIG as as if it's one big monolithic entity) that surely did them no favors, continuing up the food chain to CT Dem Chris Dodd for removing provisions to monitor these bonuses, than lying about it, up to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who apparently lobbied for said provisions' removal, and lastly to President Obama, who, let's be frank, should have known better (and in the case of Geithner, should have chosen better).


Now, providing a different perspective from the image of Righteous Populist Indignation we've gotten up to this point, I provide this picture from The Boston Globe of an AIG employee (left) confronting a protester (the other guy) outside the company's offices in Boston:

The AIG employee above is Mike Coyle, father of Sean, and here's the younger Coyle to provide us with some further context:
So here's the full story. While some held signs that supported the "restabalizing of unions" many of the protesters identified themselves as members of the "Socialist Alternative." According to my father, they all looked like a bunch of hippies and homeless people.

The story with the picture is, when my dad was coming back from lunch, the protesters began shouting things at everyone walking into the building. Keep in mind, the building isn't JUST AIG employees. But no one seemed to care, because all them there finger-pointers ain't in possession of the full facts, I reckon.

The guy in the picture was saying stuff like "my tax money's paying your salary!" and "what gives y'all the right to spend my money?" It wasn't until the guy said "you're stealing food out of our babies mouths. . . you'll be sorry" when my dad got in the guy's face and said...

..."listen, you lazy piece of shit - - I got enough of the baby killer crap in Vietnam. Check your fuckin' facts and know what the fuck you're talking about. I EARN every cent I make. You look like you've never worked a day in your life. Threaten me again and I'll break your goddamn neck."

At that moment, the private security hired by AIG's New York office stepped in and pushed the protestor away. When the photo went online and was circulated through the office, my father was sure he'd be repremanded (even though he was never listed by name). To his pleasant surprise, his boss's, boss's boss personally called him and said "I wish you would have socked that guy."

I could tell he was excited. Apparently he's a folk hero within the company as the man sticking up for all the hard-working little guys.
Having known Mr. Coyle for a little while now, let me be the first to assure you that if you got him angry like that, odds are better than even that you deserved it. The point, I guess, is that things are rarely as simple as we like to think (or think we'd like).

1 comment:

USpace said...

Good one. The Wall Streeters were fooled by all the magic talk.

They thought they could buy loyalty, they were wrong.

The Wall Streeters and AIG people who got the huge payouts, aren't really getting 'bonuses'; it really is just 'deferred compensation'. They get a base of about 250-300k, but then they get a million or 10 later as a 'bonus'. If AIG had made a lot of money in that division instead of losing tons, their 'bonuses' would have been much bigger. At those levels even when they lose money they get BIG 'bonuses', it's just deferred compensation.

If companies can't pay what the market demands for that type of employee, then they can't hire them, and then they can't be in that particular line of business.

Let AIG go bankrupt. Eff'em! But if they get bailout money to stay in business and pay their debts to other firms, they have to pay the compensation they owe their employees too. Period.

I think Pedro Martinez and Tom Cruise make too much also. So let's then limit how much the studio or the Yankees can make, and then tell them and the theaters what to charge for tickets.

Let's just outlaw 'being rich', except for politicians of course.
here’s an absurd thought -
our Supreme God
hates ALL rich people

unless they are Democrats
who have the right to be rich

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
always create more taxes

hypnotize the people
one more tax will fix it all

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
don't believe in me

put faith in communism
despite it killing billions
All real freedom starts with freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech there can be no real freedom.
Philosophy of Liberty Cartoon