Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Senator Tells AIG Execs to Quit or Commit Suicide

When speaking about the revelation that AIG is going to pay out $165 million in bonuses after taking billions in federal bailout money, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) showed yet again why some politicians need to avoid speaking without a pre-written speech in front of them.

The issue became public over the weekend when it was revealed that because of contractual obligations, AIG, which is already 80% owned by the government, is going to pay out the aforementioned bonuses. According to AIG, these contracts, which some have conjectured may be commissions on sales rather than bonuses, were written in early 2008.

Uh, before anyone starts pointing fingers, let's remember two things:
  • Who was President then? OK.
  • A contract is a contract. Unless you want America to become a lawless country, unless Treasury Secretary Geithner can find some legal loophole (in other words, they wrote the contract poorly enough to allow some sort of hoodwinkish escape clause), legally, we're stuck. That said, President Barack Obama has directed Geithner to look for something.
The Republican lawmaker's comments came during an interview with Cedar Rapids, Iowa, radio station WMT:
"I suggest, you know, obviously, maybe they ought to be removed. But I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they'd follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I'm sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide.

"And in the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology."
Grassley is talking about seppuku, or ritual suicide. By the way, Grassley, the actual ritual is in fact a form of atonement. And to be done properly, you need a "second." What happens is that the participant slices horizontally across his belly from the side (disembowling himself), then the second beheads him.

At any rate, Grassley's aides tried to backpedal swiftly. Spokesman Casey Mills:
"Senator Grassley has said for some time now that generally speaking, executives who make a mess of their companies should apologize, as Japanese executives do. He says the Japanese might even go so far as to commit suicide but he doesn't want U.S. executives to do that."
It's still done in rare cases, but without all the ritual ceremony. I have to admit, these guys are getting rich while failing, while most of us would be fired for such performance. I'm sure, in reality, many of us would prefer them to either lose the cash, resign, and go to prison (where their torture will be long and hard) or all of the above.

Seppuku, to be honest, is too quick.


Anonymous said...

There were contracts with labor unions that are not beyond being broken to save a company.

Will that land the country into a state of lawlessness?

Total Protect Home Warranty said...

Grassley, the actual ritual is in fact a form of atonement. And to be done properly, you need a "second."