Commentary: AIG bonuses are just part of the problem

This editorial appeared in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Should U.S. taxpayers be livid over the gargantuan bonuses being paid to workers at AIG, the global insurance giant that has received at least $170 billion in government bailout aid?

Do geese fly? Do dogs bark? Do politicians grandstand?

The American International Group bonuses symbolize the wretched excess, greed and irresponsibility that have plagued much of the business world in recent years.

The obscenely obese bonuses total $220 million to hundreds of employees, with $55 million awarded in December and another $165 million in retention bonuses paid last week, according to news reports. Seventy-three employees got bonuses of $1 million or more and the biggest bonus was nearly $6.5 million, The Associated Press reported.

For these undeservedly lucky folks, AIG must stand for "Ain't It Grand?" But for the average bonus-deprived taxpayer, it stands for "Ain't It Greed?"

Even more infuriating, the bulk of the bonus bonanza went to employees who worked in an AIG unit responsible for peddling risky financial products known as "credit default swaps," a form of insurance heavily tied to subprime mortgages and the housing industry collapse.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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