There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but there is such a thing as a ripoff by mattsteinglass
March 26, 2009, 1:37 am
Filed under: Economics

Megan McArdle is startled to find that contrary to claims by others that AIG’s retention bonuses were a travesty, people who work at AIG don’t think so. She believes critics (presumably referring to Ezra Klein) who say the AIG traders’ behavior offends their love of country; she does “not, however, believe that this love would actually keep them working long hours for little-to-no pay at a company that was failing because people in another department, people long since given the sack, had screwed up royally.”

A fair point. Therefore, I think the people working to wrap up the affairs of the AIG FP division should be paid a decent American salary — $100,000 a year, say — rather than being enslaved and forced to toil for free. Well, okay, for those who did really stellar work, $250,000 might even be in order. Mr. DeSantis says his bonus amounted to $746,000 after taxes. So how about we tone that congressional surtax down from 90% to 66% on the amount left after other taxes are assessed, leaving Mr. DeSantis with his hard-earned 250 grand for the year, and we’ll call it a deal. Shall we?

P.S.: The statement “I plan to donate the entire amount to charity” has a disreputable whiff to it; I would have advised DeSantis to actually donate $150,000 or so before writing the article, provide a verifiable list of donations, and then say he plans to donate the rest as well, having established his credibility. But surely someone who worked at AIG’s Financial Products division is above any suspicion of being creative in what he means by the words “donate”, or “100 percent of the effective after-tax proceeds of my retention payment”, or “organizations that are helping people who are suffering from the global downturn”. And his argument that he, rather than taxpayers, is exclusively entitled to decide what to do with the money that taxpayers gave him after the company he worked for became insolvent certainly seems airtight.

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