Well, I suppose I am in the minority, but I think the AIG executives should keep their bonuses. They are negotiated compensation packages used as enticements to attract employees. They aren't based upon merit, and they aren't "job well done" bonuses, but contractually binding, perfectly legal, contracts guaranteeing these bonuses as part of their employee compensation. They are entitled to this money regardless of the state of the company, unless there was a clause in the contracts that states that profitability had to be up to a specified standard before bonuses were to be given out.
And to me, the whole idea of the government circumventing their own laws by taxing the bonuses away from the employees is nothing shy of stealing. That is the problem with accepting government money. When the government gives you a $1, they want $5 worth of authority in the company's management. Colleges have been dealing with this for years. That is why some colleges, like Hillsdale, refuse to take government money. Government Funds = Government Regulation.
I can't imagine being enticed and agreeing to work for a company for $20.00 an hour, and then that company gets bailed out by the government, only to have the taxpayers demand that my salary be cut to $10.00 an hour.
That isn't ethical on any level, in my opinion. The correct thing to do was to not have the government sticking their noses into private business to begin with. And what we are seeing is just the beginning of what happens when the government gets involved in private industry.
Chris Dodd is the root of the problem. But legally, Dodd is, or rather was, in the right. Just because a company accepts government money doesn't legally free them from meeting their contractual obligations to their employees.
As of now though, Dodd is on the frontlines of the movement to demand payback and forfeiture of the bonuses. Yet another democratic flip-flop. First he adds an amendment guaranteeing employee compensation, and now is saying the employees are not entitled to their compensation.
I think people enjoy seeing rich people suffer. What they don't understand is that the actual corporate entity known as "AIG" and the Federal Government are the real bad guys, and are actually the ones who will benefit from these bonuses being re-possessed. There is nothing to be gained by punishing employees.
It isn't rocket science. Good and profitable companies are comprised of happy and well compensated employees. Just look at Google.
When the original bailout manifested itself, it was given a sense of urgency by our Government with rhetoric like "Emergency". The bill (HR 1424) was 1,100 pages. Scrutiny and debate over the bill was discouraged, which seems to be becoming the normal state of affairs lately.
At any rate, most of the people who voted on the bill had 15 minutes to read, scrutinize, and debate an 1,100 page document. The bill is said to have been posted on the Government's intranet 15 minutes before voting was to take place.
The upshot is, our idiotic government had no idea what was really contained in the bill. They were given 1-line summaries by their advisers, who probably hadn't read the bill either, in regards what the bill would accomplish. They were told, "This bill gives Hank Paulson a blank check to an account with $700,000,000,000.00 in it, to distribute as he pleases." And all our senators and congressmen said, "Cool!"
No one was intuitive enough to see potential problems with this, which is what happens when the government attempts to become a business entity. They establish rules with no ability to adapt to the unexpected.
Polls suggested the general public wanted the bill to fail, so that failing companies would fail, and Capitalism would prevail. But as with all tyrannical governments, our government (notably ungoverned) is convinced it is smarter than the people they are governing.
But, just as it always has been. The people were right, our government was wrong, and Public Law 110-343 is a disaster.
I think much of it was political gesturing. It was during the presidential campaign season that this took place. And people were very curious to see the political parties' reaction to this crisis. So both sides were presumably pandering to their constituents, which proves to me that they do not have the best interest of our country in mind.
Not to spin off into the liberal v. conservative debate, but I would like to mention that this is why I am a conservative. The core foundational principle of Reagan-esque Conservatism is that the government is an entity that is corrupt and incompetent, so the prevailing wisdom is to keep government, and government involvement, as minimal as possible to reduce the problems that will imminently arise out of government interference. That is why I am convinced the Republican Party is no longer the party of Conservative values. George W. Bush led the charge for this asinine legislation last fall, and yet the GOP website continues to deify him as the personification of Conservative values. It is all hogwash.