Kelly Picks a Fight: The Best and the Brightest

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Kelly Picks a Fight: The Best and the Brightest

(And by the best and the brightest, of course I mean the worst and the greediest.)

My blood has yet to stop boiling over this whole AIG bonus debacle, especially as more and more details come out. New York's Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, has been leading the charge against AIG for months now. His first letter to the company last October 15 reprimanded them on the first wave of excessive expenditures, including executive compensation, and demanded they cease and desist such irresponsible behavior. They obviously did not heed his warning.

When word spread over the weekend about the payment of $165 million in bonuses, Cuomo drafted and sent letter number two on Monday. In it, Cuomo states that AIG have agreed not to make any payments out of the “$600 million Financial Products deferred compensation pool.” Cuomo further demands that a list of the payees be on his desk by 4 p.m. that day or else subpoenas would be forthcoming.

Well, the list arrived and the blood boiled over. Rachel Maddow did a nice round-up of events and details last night:

Yes, you heard her right. On top of everything else, retention bonuses were paid to 11 people who no longer work there, all of whom were the actual idiots who drove the company into the ground, including one guy who took $4.6 million and then quit. Really?!?!

Mother Jones printed the breakdown today.
The top recipient received more than $6.4 million;
The top seven bonus recipients received more than $4 million each;
The top ten bonus recipients received a combined $42 million;
22 individuals received bonuses of $2 million or more, and combined they received more than $72 million;
73 individuals received bonuses of $1 million or more; and
Eleven of the individuals who received "retention" bonuses of $1 million or more are no longer working at AIG, including one who received $4.6 million.

This is where I want to scream and pound and explode with anger. Are these people so ethically bankrupt and utterly greedy that they will accept this money with absolutely no qualms or concerns? It seems so. Now that new AIG boss Edward Liddy has asked some of them to give the money back, some of them are willing to do the right thing. Some.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(And I shout that sincerely.)

Many points are now being pointed out about how fantastically wrong this whole thing is, from the fact that the government owns nearly 80% of AIG so the taxpayers should be able to vote down the bonuses to the fact that the blue collar auto workers had to renegotiate their contracts so why shouldn't the white collar criminals to the fact that we shouldn't want to retain the people who ruined the company anyway. Good points, one and all.

But what, of any of this, is getting to the roots of the problem – the fact that free market capitalism breeds greed, the fact that our economic system favors swindlers, the fact that non-regulation and loopholes will always be taken advantage of by someone looking to make a quick buck and the rest of us are chumps.

Samantha Bee did a piece on Monday's The Daily Show that illustrates the point by looking at the art of short selling.

There was a guy on NPR yesterday talking about how we just need to let it go and move on, that being angry isn't going to help anyone. I have to disagree. Eight years of acedia is what got us here and our collective outrage is the only thing that is going to help because that is the only thing that lets the politicians know we are serious about all this funny business.

Comments [13]

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Yeah, the least they could do

Yeah, the least they could do is bring the Lube! Greedy frackers would probably make us pay for it, though! :twisted:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was on the Thom Hartmann Show earlier. He estimates the banking, financial services, and insurance industries have spent an estimated $5 BILLION over the last 10 years in campaign contributions and lobbying of Congress to repeal laws and deregulate their industries. With the exception of AIG in 2008, both the Democratic and Republican Parties received roughly the same share of the fatted calf.

The only difference between the Democrats and Republican is the conviction rate!

Fastgurrrl's picture

They are jerking each other

They are jerking each other off on their piles of money, and we are all getting fucked...and not in a good way.

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

AIG (and others) paid quite a

AIG (and others) paid quite a bit to get Congress to pass the laws and lift the regulations. Congress in return did the bidding of their corporate masters.

Like I said above, we have the best government money can buy.

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

A couple of questions come to

A couple of questions come to mind:

How is it the White House and Congress heard nothing about AIG's bonuses until in the last few days, but I heard about it, ad nauseum, last January?

How is it that the people who brought down AIG, and in the process the global economy, were able to keep their jobs after September 2008? They should have been fired for cause right then and there!

How is it that Congress, the Bush Administration, the US Treasury, and the Fed, all were able to craft a bailout plan that failed to even consider compensation, bonuses, benefits, perks, etc?

And how is it that a corporation is allowed to become so massive that, if any part of it fails, the global economy fails with it?

Here's how:

AIG has contributed more than $9 million to federal office campaigns in the last 20 years. While in the past they haven't been particularly partisan in their donations (known as a shotgun approach, to cover all the political angles), 68% of the campaign donations in the last cycle went to Democratic Party candidates. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), head of the Senate Finance Committee, collected over $90,000 (AIG is his largest contributor). Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) got more than $280,000, as Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

How about those members of Congress who own a piece of AIG? 22 it turns out, including Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), who's holdings in AIG in 2007 exceeded $2 million.

Last year, AIG spent $9.7 million lobbying Congress, an average $53,000 a day for every day Congress was in session. This was down from 2007, when AIG spent $11.4 million for the same activities.

Together, AIG has "invested" over $20 million over 2 years (excluding lobbying) in our elected officials, nearly all in key positions in various banking, insurance, investment, and regulatory positions.

In return, AIG has received in the last year alone more than $180 Billion.

That's roughly a 30,000% return on investment in two years.

Yes, we truly have the best government money can buy!

I'm not just picking on Dem's here, but they were the ones in charge when this whole mess blew up in everyone's faces. They also received the majority of campaign contributions in the last election cycle, which I strongly believe was the reason AIG got such a sweet deal to begin with.

Nor was AIG alone last year in their investment efforts. Bank of America spent $15.8 million lobbying Congress last year. Citi Group $25.7 million. Freddie Mac $9.8 million. Goldman Sacks $30.8 million. JP Morgan $20 million. MBNA $10 million. Merrill Lynch $14.2 million. Morgan Stanley $17.8 million.

BTW, Lehman Brothers, the one that turned out wasn't too big to fail? They spent about $580,000 in lobbying last year, and have never spent more than $1 million in any year on such efforts. I guess they do not understand the way our pay-to-play government system works, eh?

All of these numbers I've used are rounded. All of this information is readily available at for you to look up for yourself. If you look at who is spending what on whom, and then compare it to subsequent legislation being passed, you will find the very reasons we are in the mess we are today.

Kelly McCartney's picture

This has all leveled the

This has all leveled the playing field. You followed the rules and still got screwed, ending up alongside everyone else who never saved a dime. It's all pushing me further toward the socialist mindset of sharing in collective wealth and public-owned businesses/services.

The greed and insensitivity involved is astounding. Also, I really hate the right's rhetoric about tax increases punishing success. It reminds me, once again, of Rosie O'Donnell saying that if you are on one of the richest people lists, you aren't giving enough away.

Won't you be my neighbor? @theKELword

Lezbeth's picture

Okay, this is getting

Okay, this is getting personal. I'm one of those people saved and invested, has a paid off car, a piddly balance on one credit card, and a house that at one time had more than 50% equity in it. Because of these greedy zipwads and their mortgage derivatives, credit default swaps (AIG was responsible for these), my savings got sucked up and I'm facing a major upheaval. Shit! If anyone ever questions the "we are one" idea, just look at how, as a society (or what might have once been called a civilization) we are individually AND collectively experiencing the consequences of cultural greed.

We'll see how it all plays out, but I think this stuff is sowing the seeds of well it should be. My house may go away, but dammit, I'm keeping that shovel.

Kelly McCartney's picture

And the grave robbing

And the grave robbing comment, too. On NPR today they were talking about Crocs failing.

Won't you be my neighbor? @theKELword

minniesota's picture

I loved Samantha Bee's piece

I loved Samantha Bee's piece on short selling when someone explained, "It's like buying fire insurance for an company and then burning it down."

Kelly, keep fighting the good fight with the greedy SOBs.

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

Fastgurrrl's picture

Re: Rachel's show - The

Re: Rachel's show - The Repub. suggesting seppuku for the bogus-bonus-black holes, haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Good one, for a Repub. However, these scoundrels do not appear to have anywhere near the standards of honor required to even consider this ritual.

Re: The Daily Show & The Money Honey Bee - bwaaaaaaahaaaaaahaaaaaaaaaaaa! She's funny. I love some of the looks she was getting, LOL! =)

Kelly McCartney's picture

I know. It breaks my heart.

I know. It breaks my heart.

Won't you be my neighbor? @theKELword

Kelly McCartney's picture

I think it was a different

I think it was a different guy today, but I heard him, too. Congress IS to blame. Absolutely. But not entirely.

Won't you be my neighbor? @theKELword

Fastgurrrl's picture

"Are these people so

"Are these people so ethically bankrupt and utterly greedy that they will accept this money with absolutely no qualms or concerns?"

Ummm, YES. It's disgusting.

"There was a guy on NPR yesterday talking about how we just need to let it go and move on, that being angry isn’t going to help anyone."

Ummm, NPR guy? FUCK YOU MO FO.

Grace Moon's picture

okay I'm just listen to that

okay I'm just listen to that guy on NPR blaming congress for letting those bastards at AIG take advantage of the system!!??

do these fiance people have any morals whatsoever?

tweet tweet @gracemoon