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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 17, 2009 at 4:33 PM

The AIG bonuses

Give me names, amounts

I, like so many others, am appalled at the bonuses being handed out at AIG [“AIG bonuses: $165 million more,” News, March 15].

I would like to see the names of the people who accepted these bonuses, the amount each received, and the position each was employed in for which they received a bonus.

Since the federal government (meaning me as a taxpayer!) is now an 80-percent owner of AIG, I believe the information should be available to us.

— Lucy Arnold, Port Townsend

Demand bailout bonuses be disgorged

It’s time to declare war — class warfare against the classless greedmongers who’ve turned America into a kleptocracy.

President Obama expresses our outrage, especially to see contract law used as a defense. Let’s fight law with law — tax law to disgorge bonuses from AIG and others who snatched the bailout funds.

Congress can enact retroactive tax law changes, back through 2008, for example. Let’s tax bonuses at an 80-percent rate for any firm receiving bailouts. That avoids the “contract law” dispute, disgorges most of the bonuses, and makes a bigger point: We’re not going to take it any more.

Demand that Congress claw back those bonuses. And watch, execs might decide that they really don’t need bailout money after all.

— David Giuliani, Mercer Island

Demand immediate repayment

Why is it that the rich people in America cannot understand the feelings of the poor, homeless and unemployed people among us?

President Obama has called the recent bonuses given to AIG executives “greedy and reckless.” AIG received $170 billion dollars in American taxpayer bailout money and has recently given $450 million to executives and others in the form of performance bonuses.

Bonuses for what? Financial collapse of the American economy fueled by working-class pensions that have wound up in the pockets of our newest “robber barons”?

Jesus was famous for getting angry once long ago, and for throwing the money-changers out of the synagogue. President Obama should demand immediate repayment of the $170 billion in taxpayer bailout money from these selfish and egocentric people at AIG.

— David Enroth, Seattle

Lack of accountability

After suffering the largest corporate loss ever and receiving $170 billion in taxpayer dollars, AIG is paying $165 million in bonuses to executives who sold the credit-default swaps that caused its massive losses.

According to its chairman, Edward Liddy, the payments are “distasteful and difficult” but are a contractual obligation. Liddy noted that AIG entered into these contracts early in 2008, before the company got into severe financial straits.

While one can argue that Liddy should, at the very least, have been aware of the risks and should not have entered into these contracts, as an attorney and former CEO, I understand contractual obligations and I congratulate Liddy for living up to AIG’s commitments.

Leaving aside how these individuals can look at themselves in the mirror, one thing does boggle the mind: Why are these executives still employed? Surely, the reason cannot be that AIG needs their expertise? After all, that’s the reason the company failed financially!

Moreover, I am willing to bet that any lower-level employee who performed so poorly would have been fired without notice, and certainly without any “bonus.”

I look forward to Liddy explaining AIG’s lack of accountability.

— Jean-Pierre Ruiz, Bellevue

Comments | More in Federal bailouts

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