The grasping AIG Financial Division execs who brought the firm to its knees and helped send the global economy spiraling only to receive federal rescue handouts to the tune of $180 billion in loans, stock investments and other commitments from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department, complained and whined and felt persecuted when they were asked to forgo bonuses. In conference calls with besieged Gerry Pasciucco, who was hired to shut the division down, they bitterly maligned tax payers and politicians and said they hoped the economy plunged further to teach the public a lesson.
When New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo threatened to make their names public unless they returned their bonuses, they cried out against being “extorted” and “blackmailed” and made the subject of a “McCarthyite” witch hunt. In other words, they lived up in private to their public image as the entitled jerks of the financial class whose personal greed blotted out any perspective on their place in society and their role in a catastrophe that continues to bring real pain to millions.
The Washington Post got hold of a transcript of one of the conference calls. One nameless particularly petulant participant makes repeat appearances in the Post write up. Here he is doing the impossible by making it clear he is a worse person even than the politicians in Washington whom he decries:
“They only care about the next election, just like we only care about the next bonus. Well, none of them cares about the country, none of us cares about the institution,” he said, adding: “They really don’t care, and I really don’t care. And frankly, if a trillion dollars gets lost, fine.”
Here is Pasciucco bending over backward to make the case to this group of nitwits that they should think twice about keeping their unearned money:
He agreed that the manner in which some Washington officials had responded to the furor was despicable. “I think it’s distasteful. It’s unfair. It’s unjust. I agree with you, it’s not American. It is McCarthy-ite. . . . It will be viewed as a horribly dark period.”
Still, he tried to offer a dose of realism. The retention payments might have been guaranteed by contract, he said, but Financial Products had made bad bets that cost taxpayers billions of dollars. Although the decision to return part of their money was voluntary, he said, such a pledge might help employees defuse some of the public anger.
Sen. Joe McCarthy hunted communist traitors that didn’t exist and forced people to name names of innocent people and suggested criminal subversion that never took place. AIG Financial Division execs have been paid and paid and they mostly didn’t lose their jobs and none of them are in jail or blacklisted or unemployable. They were criminal risk takers with other people’s money then criminal beneficiaries of tax payer largess and then criminal whiners to boot.
Here’s the coda, supplied artfully by Post writer Brady Dennis:
When another employee asked whether the staff would be getting a second round of bonuses promised for March 2010, his colleagues burst into laughter, apparently considering this a preposterous notion amid the public outrage.
Yet they did see that money, at least most of it. Last month, under a deal in which employees agreed to take a cut in their upcoming retention bonuses in return for an accelerated payment, AIG paid out about $100 million to employees at the firm. AIG is scheduled to pay the last of the bonuses this month.
Even so, neither time nor money has softened the employees’ feelings of wrongful persecution and their anger over becoming the subjects of scorn and ridicule.
AIG Financial Division execs don’t demand just to be wealthy and above the law, they also want to be loved. As Mike Lillis at the Washington Independent put it in his blog on this story, AIG employees make a very good case for just stashing your cash in your mattress.