AIG Bonuses: Did It Break the Law? Then Shut the Fuck Up:
Let's pretend we're grown-ups here for a minute:
The Rude Pundit has no dog in the AIG bonus fight except as one of us few hundred million citizen-stakeholders. He doesn't know anyone at AIG or at any of the banks that AIG funneled money to. He doesn't give a shit one way or another about who these people are, who their families are, where they piss, who they fuck, anything.
And the Rude Pundit understands and feels the moral outrage over the payment of tens of millions of dollars in bonuses to AIG employees when the company had received tens of billions of dollars in bailout cash from us (or, more appropriately, from the Chinese, or, even more appropriately, from our grandkids). It's a damn shame. And the people who took that money home after rocketing the economy off the edge of a cliff like they were Evel Knievel at Snake River Canyon should have to work as migrant fruit pickers for the rest of their lives. And, sure, some of them oughta be puttin' the blade to their guts in shame. Karmic justice? Fuck yeah. Mob justice? No goddamn way.
So all that said, there's something fucked about a member of Congress demanding the names of people who legally received money. The payment may be immoral. It may piss us off. But it ain't a crime. And what purpose does it serve other than vengeance and pillory, the kind of wave where innocent people inevitably get accused and swept away?
Check out this exchange between Barney Frank and AIG CEO and pitiful bastard Edward Liddy:
"FRANK: I'm now asking you to send us the names of those who received bonuses who have not given them back. Can you do that?
"LIDDY: Sir, I -- I will, if I can be absolutely assured that they will remain confidential.
"FRANK: Well, I -- I won't give you that assurance, sir. And so if that's the condition, it would be my intention to ask this committee to subpoena them. And I would -- this is a situation where there's a lot of public activity. I ask you to submit the names of the people who've received the bonuses, noting that they paid them back or not, and I won't accept them under confidentiality, personally."
A moment later, Frank says, "I disagree with the people who wrote those contracts, but it did not appear to me to be criminal." Representatives Gary Ackerman and Alan Grayson also asked Liddy to name names of people who engaged in legal behavior approved by the Federal Reserve during the Bush administration and under the eye of current administration officials.
There ought to be political ramifications. There oughta be regulations and laws passed. But they ain't there now. And it's wrong under any circumstances to treat people like bank robbers when the bank managers simply handed them stuffed bags with big dollar signs on them when they walked into the branch office. Naming names of people who did nothing legally wrong smacks of witch hunts old and new. That's shameful, too.
Now, if Andrew Cuomo's investigation shows that AIG and Liddy illegally funneled money to Goldman Sachs and other banks, then we oughta break out the rotting fruit for big fun at the perp walks.
(Final note: Goddamn you, Eliot Spitzer, for taking yourself out of the picture.)