Wednesday, October 8, 2008

AIG fleecing taxpayers

September 16, 2008. In a bid to save financial markets and the economy from further turmoil, the U.S. government agreed today to provide an $85 billion US emergency loan to rescue the huge insurer AIG. The Federal Reserve said in a statement it determined that a disorderly failure of American International Group could hurt the already delicate financial markets and the economy.

Just days later senior execs from the troubled company headed south for a five night getaway at the luxurious St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, CA. The cost of this executive retreat? $440,000 of taxpayer money, including $200,000 for rooms (the presidential suite was booked for all five nights at a cost of $3200/night – gotta have a sweet crib for the hookers), $150,000 for meals, $23,000 in spa charges, and $7000 for golf. In these times of economic uncertainty at least we can be certain of one thing: Wall Street execs have always been and will continue to be miserable, self-absorbed scumbags, who are completely out of touch with reality.

Joe Norton, an AIG spokesperson, said the company’s stay at the St. Regis Resort had been incorrectly labeled an executive retreat by lawmakers and members of the media. “It was not an executive retreat,” he said. “It was a meeting to reward and incent independent sales agents.” As Norton described it, AIG had invited about 100 of its top salespeople to stay at the St. Regis for a week of meetings and motivational events. Norton said only about 10 AIG senior managers attended the event, although he declined to identify them. “They were the level of people who participate in such discussions,” Norton said, adding that resort holidays are “an industry practice to reward top producers.”

I don't care what the purpose of the retreat was. Perhaps somebody should explain to Mr. Norton that the other companies taking part in these motivational events aren’t on the verge of bankruptcy, and that their resort holidays aren’t being paid for with taxpayer money. Was there not a single executive in all of AIG who thought it might be a good idea to cancel this event? That perhaps given the circumstances a $440,000 boondoggle wasn’t entirely appropriate? Unfuckinbelievable.

I’ve never been a big fan of government regulation, but I think there’s a strong case to be made for it at companies like AIG. It makes you wonder how much of the 700 billion dollar bailout fund is going to be used for the common good, and how much of it is going to be squandered away on inappropriate and unnecessary perks for Corporate fat cats? And Wall Street still can't figure out why it's so despised by Main Street.

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