AIG bailouts and bonuses
Spotlight could bring some justice
The comedy of errors playing out as AIG bonuses attract attention like rotten fish attract flies could be the best thing that has happened to help turn the economy around.
Here we have AIG, after some growing, unpopular publicity for writing financial derivative instruments that put a good face on ugly, overleveraged mortgages to unqualified borrowers who had no way of paying back those mortgages. Then AIG foolishly but profitably insured those bogus instruments and even encouraged mortgage brokers and bankers to keep writing more of these mortgages.
Now it comes out that AIG takes bailout money from the government with one hand and pays millions in bonuses to the people causing it to fail with the other hand.
Finally the media and the president have joined those of us in the silent majority who are outraged by the audacity of it all. This outrage will generate political capital for public ownership of AIG and for stopping the bonuses and assuming some oversight and approval role in how the bailout money is distributed. Our sense of justice would be served. The market likes that sort of thing.
Or else, Carl Hiaasen has a great comic novel being played out for his next book, and we get to watch it happen.
Michael Otto, Oldsmar
Congress: Return bonuses | March 18
Acting in haste can result in financial disaster
The old saying "act in haste and repent at leisure" is so applicable to the AIG bailout mess that Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, the leaders of Congress and President Barack Obama engineered.
Geithner was in charge of the New York Fed when this bailout was done, and was fully aware that if any investor, in this case the U.S. taxpayers, is buying 80 percent of a company, he must do "due diligence" work on what the company plans to do with the new capital being infused. This was all done in such haste, in a "sky is falling" mentality.
The taxpayers would have been much better off letting AIG file bankruptcy first. Then the taxpayers could have infused the capital as a "debtor in possession" lender, and the federal courts would have had control of all AIG expenditures. The bonus contracts would have been nullified or renegotiated. If this had not been done in haste by incompetents in Washington, we as taxpayers would not be thinking of firing all these bums as soon as we can vote them from office!
S.L. Hutton, Belleair
Bonuses may be obligations
There may be another side to the AIG bonus story that the media and politicians don't want to report. If the bonuses are based on an employment agreement and the employee has satisfied the conditions necessary to earn the bonus then employment law would support the payment of the bonus. These laws were put in place to protect employees from employers that may try to avoid bonus payment by firing someone.
You can tell from the hue and cry raised by our politicians that most of them have never run a business and they don't understand employment law.
It is actually possible, as distasteful as it may seem, that those AIG employees slated to receive bonuses may have legally earned them.
Edward Newill, St. Petersburg
A political distraction
You have fallen for a political head-fake by expressing outrage at the AIG contractual bonuses. The Senate and the House knew about these all along. It was when the public began to be concerned about trillions of dollars being spent that they needed a diversion to draw attention away from their spending habits. You cry about the inequity of the bonuses while ignoring the real source of the problem, i.e., the ruling political class.
I conclude that you have become a victim of your political bias and/or sloppy journalism.
Malcolm H. Meyer, Tarpon Springs
Everyone is asking why this company is handing out bonuses after posting the biggest loss in history. Everyone is demanding action.
Maybe we should start by asking this: How much money has this company handed out in political contributions, and to which candidates or causes, in the 2008 election? Or 2006? Or 2004?
Then maybe we can start to get some real answers to our questions?
Kris Gonynor, Port Richey
Cringing at USF bonuses, editorial, and AIG names banks it paid, story | March 16
Give us the names
This was a great editorial clearly stating the salaries at USF and the bonuses, even the raises, while positions were eliminated elsewhere. It is understandable that the faculty and staff were angry. This should be done more often.
So now, let's take the expose one more step and bring out all of the takers of the bonuses at AIG. It is said they will sue if they don't get their bonuses. Well, let them sue. Would they dare go to court to get the taxpayers' money as a bonus for producing a failing AIG?
Please find out who these people are. We should all be able to know just who is depositing the bonuses. What has each one done to earn these huge sums? Show us their pictures and tell us about them. If we, the taxpayers, own 80 percent of AIG why shouldn't we be able to know which of our employees got these bonuses and how much? Certainly if these employees of ours have done such a good job at AIG, they will want to share their successes with the public.
Ann Myers, Redington Shores
AIG gave bonuses to retain the "best and brightest."
Yeah, where will those guys go if they don't get those bonuses? You won't find them on unemployment lines with lots of other folks. The best would surely stay and take pride in cleaning up the mess.
Bill Cooper, Tampa
It doesn't add up
Here we go again. AIG recieved $170 billion from the taxpayers and now is going to give their executives $165 million in bonuses. AIG is saying this was planned before the bailout money was given to them.
If so, then how can a financially troubled company afford to give out this kind of bonus? It's either they were not in trouble to start with or they are using the bailout money for the bonuses. Someone's lying, and the taxpayers are getting the shaft.
Andrew Harbuck, Largo
There is no question that CEOs and other executives of large companies are usually way overpaid. I have to laugh, however, at Rep. Barney Frank's statement that AIG's bonuses are rewards for incompetence.
If that is true, then what does he consider the $174,000 that we pay each member of a Congress which lately appears to be made up of a group of individuals whose main qualifications are a total, complete, and absolute lack of brains?
Ed Raciborski, Tampa
Our president is scheduled to be on Jay Leno's show this week. Why?
Exposure such as that can serve only feed his ego and not his position as the leader of the world's most mighty nation.
It seems his goal might be to massage the populace into accepting all he says and proposes as being what's best for "us." Gee, honey, he's just like us!
I am a bit embarrassed by this type of action. Think of the cost to the taxpayer. Think of the displacement of others in attendance. That, and his whining about living in a bubble? Give me a break! One could not find a bubble large enough for his ego, let alone one with television access.
I can just imagine other "world leaders" tuning to see our president in action! Boy, was he entertaining or what?
With all due respect for the office, sir, be the "president" of our country, not just another "celebrity."
Lanny Fuettere, Land O'Lakes