Wednesday, March 18, 2009

this is not a political post

I never, ever, ever blog about politics and this post is no exception.

But you just know that somewhere, someone is printing up t-shirts that say: I destroyed the global financial system and all I got was this lousy $1.3 million bonus.

What's your take on the whole AIG/bailout/Great Depression 2.0 thing?

20 comments:

mcpolish said...

Whenever I hear about these bonuses, on top of the salaries, all I can think is, "What exactly does a person DO with all that money?"

niobe said...

mcpolish: I know, I know. But trying to decide what to do with all that money is problem I definitely wouldn't mind having.

Lori said...

This is what I tweeted about that:

Companies make bad decisions with their own money. Then we are SHOCKED when they make WORSE decision w/ OTHER people's money. Why are we surprised?

It happened with Northern Trust last month and AIG now. And these are just the ones we know about.

Cassie said...

The whole thing baffles me. There are some fundamental questions that I wish someone would address, mainly the issue of "too big to fail."

Too big to fail seems to me to be another way to say Monopoly. Maybe not a monopoly, but, at the very least, it seems to go against the capitalist system we seem to want to run.

If a business is too big to fail, it will take potentially dangerous risks because that business isn't really risking anything. The potential to fail is what keeps businesses from taking stupid risks it can't afford.

So, my question is: Shouldn't these massive banks be broken up so that, once they are back on their feet, they can't do this again?

niobe said...

Cassie: Exactly. Someone said something like: "too big to fail" should be considered "too big to exist."

k@lakly said...

First I thought what huge balls they have to take that money and hand it out like a party favor but then I realized it's not balls it's entitlement issues, they think the rules don't apply to them. And as long as they keep getting away with this b.s., I guess they're right.

Road Blocks and Roller Coasters said...

The whole thing is just insane and I hate to say it, but I think the government is just as culpable as the banks and financial institutions. To say that they JUST realized these bonuses would be paid and are JUST now trying to "stop" it is just a glaring example of what a mess we are in. And I definitely don't think its a republican/democratic thing--its a have/have nots thing...and if you're in power or you provide money to those that are in power then you'll likely be saved and everyone else, well, too bad.

It's beyond aggravating.

erica said...

I wish that we valued educators, social workers, and others who work for the common good (what an old-fashioned phrase that is, common good) with big paychecks instead of these CEOs & VPs, who are in it (very obviously now) for themselves.

I hate it that so many people seem to feel entitled to make millions a year while so many have to scramble to get by. When those entitled few do a piss-poor job and are still raking in huge bonuses, I start channeling my inner Madame DuFarge.

Catherine said...

My grandma had a phrase...throwing good money after bad. Now I know what she meant.

Mad said...

No politics from me. I've hit my quotient for hot button items this week. I did want to say about the post 2 below that we actually own a pi/e dish, as in we have a pie dish that has the pi symbol in the bottom of it and the first 100 or so digits ringing the crust edge. It was a gift from my BIL and we make all our pies using it.

Oh wait. I found a picture of it:
http://www.whatonearthcatalog.com/whatonearth/Item_The-Pi-Dish_VC4603_ps_srm.html

niobe said...

Mad: Love the pi dish.

Erica: Your inner Madame Defarge, huh? I was thinking there might be a run on pitchforks and torches, but you're absolutely right -- knitting needles are also very much in vogue.

Aurelia said...

I want that t-shirt!

Then again, I also own an Ollie North t-shirt...

Anyway, not a fan of these guys getting bonuses, mostly because the bonuses are actually commissions and supposed to be based on performance, just like salespeople who sell cars, or real estate.

And these guys sucked, so they shouldn't get any money! At a good company like the ones my husband works with, most of the guys are paid on an "eat what you kill" basis. You have a bad year, you could get zero, and lots do even after 16 hour days, 7 days a week. Other years, you get paid lots, because you actually succeeded and made your clients loads of money!!

But this? Utter crap...

I do agree that your government takes most of the blame though. We aren't having the same kind of banking crisis that you or the Europeans have had simply because we kept it boring and simple. We required people to have jobs and down payments to get a mortgage. We can't write off the interest on our mortgages, and we don't trade mortgages around between banks. Which is boring as hell, and our real estate never soared to the dizzying heights yours did, but we complained bitterly about it, but now none of our very tightly regulated banks have failed, and none are going too.

So yes, get mad at the AIG guys but maybe it's time to ask how in the hell did the American system turn out like this?

Christine said...

all i have to say is that i want to see a picture of little cole in his pink outfit. :-)

Cara said...

*Sigh* I don't do politics either - but - ick...I just want to puke when I read that text!

christina(apronstrings) said...

i do think it stinks and is insane. but i am tired of the media focusing on it--though, in the end they are really just reporting what we want as evidenced through the ratings.

they want us to support their lifestyles. they need to rein in spedning just like the rest of us.

how's cole? 2nd surrogate process.

Smiling said...

I think the podcasters over at NPR's plant money had a great way of describing it. In my horrible attempt to paraphrase... They created a huge complicate mess and may be the only ones who can clean up some of the complicated derivative $ products. Bonuses are a way to try to keep them at AIG... and from leaving and playing the market with their insiders knowledge.

They compared it to an engineer at a radio station who set it up so that the place could not run without him...

all very frustrating. all reminds me that rewards are not necessarily linked to hard work, good deeds, or a job well done.

Furrow said...

Funny thing is, at my institution, where everyone is in or under the 25% tax bracket, people are volunteering to take pay cuts in order to help other people keep their jobs. I'm secretly thinking, "hell no! this bringing home the bacon mama needs every bit of her paycheck!" but I applaud the sentiment. And it does illustrate what a different world it is (education vs. corporate sector).

Sarah said...

I am a teacher, and in my division we are also ready to take pay cuts so that 34+ of us don't lose our jobs. A TEACHER, taking a pay cut!?!

Listen, I have definite political leanings. But what I keep thinking comes down to this: it is a BIG mess, and it won't clean up quick. It was a mess in the making for a long time - more than 8 years, even. So it is going to take longer than 60 odd days to clean it up. Think about baby messes - the first effort at cleaning it, whatever it is, often just smears it beyond hope. You have to be persistent, and have a lot of wipes. And sometimes elbow grease. I think the same is true of the economy.

Lisa b said...

I am....dare I admit this?..... married to banker who sells derivatives. He works for the canadian branch of a big evil american place. He was explaining to me yesterday pretty much what smiling says here.

I originally called him the evil banker on my blog if that helps you understand my moral quandry as a teacher and socialist.

Anyhoo he was in NY thursday when Obama's plan to tax the bonuses was announced and was getting emails from his evil lawyer friend warning him to flee the country.

Fwiw He actually brought in more for the bank this year than he did the year before but got paid half as much this year due to the bank's overall losses. That is not a complaint, just a fact.

How bad this was all going to be hit home for me in November when I went to London for my grandma's birthday. My uncle is a surveyor and he was in the process of laying off 200 project managers from building projects all over the city. On the bottom of that pyramid are a hell of a lot of tradespeople. I can't feel sorry for us at all when I think of them.

I liked this column today in our paper
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090321.wcoessay21/BNStory/specialComment/home

wheelsonthebus said...

those t-shirts are an excellent business idea