Geez – has our outrage gone too far? Two separate articles in the New York Times report that the beneficiaries of our taxpayer-funded bonuses are really upset. An AIG exec “looked as if he was fighting back tears” describing how his privacy had been invaded over the last few days. Fear of losing their bonuses had sent employees “into his office in tears,” according to an unnamed bank executive.
It seems that things could get pretty bad for these folks. “Bank executives… said their employees were on edge and many would face severe financial hardship if they were severely taxed on money already paid,” the Times reported.
How bad? “‘It’ll impact tens of thousands or maybe hundreds of thousands of people,’ said Alan Johnson, managing director at Johnson Associates, a compensation consulting firm in New York, noting that the tax would apply to a bonus recipient with family income of more than $250,000. ‘If you’re a receptionist and your husband is a doctor, your $5,000 bonus just vaporized.’”
I guess we are supposed to feel bad for some of these people. Not me. I look around at what has happened to this country over the last six months – people’s jobs lost, life savings slashed, dreams of a home, a college education and a better life gone – and I really can’t muster a lot of sympathy for the folks who worked at the firms that turned our economy into a casino by speculating in “credit default swaps” and mortgage backed securities.
I felt the same way when Enron went bust after pillaging California’s economy by manipulating the price of electricity back in 2001. Once the company’s phony accounting practices became public and it went into bankruptcy, a lot of the mid-level execs became indignant victims, going public with behind-the-scenes stories of financial corruption at the firm. I thought it ludicrous that these people were being hailed as “heroes.” Why didn’t they come forward before it was too late, I wondered at the time. Answer: because they were too busy partaking in the riches generated by Enron’s fraudulent behavior.