Oh for fuck's sake people.
AIG - bonuses. The outraged public demands that no bonus be paid. Sentaors are outraged. The president is outraged.
Why? The word selection.
You see, these 'bonuses' are not bonuses at all - they're simply a non-salary compensation component. The average American maybe gets a bonus, but when we do (I have gotten some, in the interests of full disclosure), it's usually performance based - either our performance individually or as a team or unit or company. Generally speaking, we think of a bonus as being additional pay that we cannot expect or count on - it comes as an addition to our expected salary and compensation.
And that's why everyone is so pissed. Because for these guys, the bonus is part of the promised package - often with contractually binding terms and language. So those guys who are getting $1 million bonuses? That's really not a bonus - it's just a different form of compensation. These folks knew they could earn these bonuses and worked hard to meet whatever requirements were mandated. I guaran-fucking-tee you that not one of these bonuses was contingent on the company making money or solvency or anything of the kind - these legal contracts were in place and binding long before anyone needed bailing out. Err, said they needed bailing out.
So these people are getting paid the money they have earned, and we are up in arms. Fuck you. If I were making $50K a year with a $20k bonus if I hit all my metrics, and I hit all my metrics - fuck you. That's my money. You can't take it away from me - it was promised before you ahd any say in the matter.
And if you try to apply a 100% tax on it, prepare for that law to be challenged in court tomorrow AM - you can't apply a tax like that, to a select group of people - the government cannot punitively tax a subset of the population. They earned this money, and despite the fact that they are now heavily subsidized, they still have existing contractual obligations they need to either see through or renegotiate.
All of you shrill Americans demanding these bonuses not be paid - what would you do if someone contractually owed you a million dollars? Would you refuse it? C'mon now - you've spent all year knowing you were getting a million dollar bonus. You can't tell me you don't have plans for travel, home improvement, a Vegas binge, a new car, whatever.
So Joe and Jane Podunk step up and cry about how the government is essentially paying my bonus. Well, fuck you. It's my income - sorry for the misuse of the word 'bonus.' Also note that it will probably be several years, if ever, before I have a chance to make that kind of money again. So I might need to bank that mill to keep my family afloat for the 8-10 years it takes to rebuild.
Anyhow, it's just another example of the American public getting outraged because it fails to understand, and a media who sits by and fans the flames of discontent instead of responsibly helping elevate the dialogue to a level that demands more intelligence from the American public. Don't dumb it down for the masses - force the masses to smarten up.
Once again - a bonus is not necessarily a bonus.