Washington is finally catching on to why people are so upset with these million dollar bonuses for executives who drove their companies into the ground and swindled American taxpayers. But Wall Street apparently still doesn't quite understand the fuss, and the folks there continue to make the argument that these bonuses are necessary to "attract and retain talent." This "talent" are the greedy, immoral,short-sighted scoundrels who bankrupt their own companies, stole the retirement funds of million of Americans and drove the global economy to the brink of depression. Some talent.
The most stupefying assertion of this ridiculous argument about talent comes in the form of a New York Times column by Andrew Ross Sorkin, entitled "The Case for Bonuses at A.I.G."
Sorkin writes that "as unpalatable as it seems, taxpayers need to keep some of these braniacs in their seats" so they can help fix the mess they made and "to prevent them from turning against the company."
Braniacs at A.I.G.?????? These "braniacs" are colossal blunderers and incompetents, just like most of the CEOs at the other companies that went bankrupt based on hugely risky and irresponsibly stupid investment decisions.
Edward M. Liddy, the new (supposedly improved) CEO of A.I.G., perpetuates this shibboleth:
"We cannot attract and retain the best and brightest talent to lead and staff" the company "if employees believe that their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury."
This argument about attracting and retaining talent has two major problems. First, it is clear by now that such a strategy did not work. Big money didn't attract talent, but greed. And selfish greed doesn't benefit much of anybody except those few who practice it.
Second, if multimillion dollar payouts are necessary to attract "talent," then how do you explain the influx of very talented, dedicated, public-spirited people into the federal government, especially with the new Obama administration? Washington is inundated by people, young and not-so-young, wanting to hitch their stars to a noble vision and public service. How many of them are being offered million dollar salaries? None.
So let THEM take over administration of these discredited and disgraced financial institutions.