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Taxpayers vent against AIG bonuses

  Corporate Governance  -   POSTED: 2009/03/18 15:16

For many Americans who could use a bailout just to balance their checkbooks and make it through the month, the thought of their tax dollars going to million-dollar bonuses for AIG executives is enough to make them furious.


"It's difficult to comprehend how screwing up gets you rewards," said George Padilla, a teacher in El Paso, Texas. "I tell my students that if they don't put in the effort and get passing grades, I will not pass them." He added: "I use the old `In the real world ...' line to point out that you would be fired if you didn't do well in your job. Well, I guess `the real world' proved me wrong."

Workers, business owners and taxpayers interviewed across the country this week fumed over the $165 million payout, with some questioning whether the government should even be in the business of bailing out Wall Street — an attitude that could dangerously undermine further efforts by the Obama administration to prop up the economy.

"Wasn't Obama supposed to fix this?" said Maria Panza-Villa, a mother of two in Hillsboro, Ore. She said she has lost three jobs since November as one employer after another folded.

The intensity of the populist fury became plain when a member of the Senate, Iowa Republican Charles Grassley, actually suggested AIG executives should follow the Japanese warrior example and resign or commit suicide.

While many ordinary Americans said Grassley's comments were out of line, others weren't so sure.

AIG executives are "not going to bleed to death because I'm not sure that they've got blood. I think it's ice water that runs through their veins," said Gary Jarvis of Herron, Ill., who lost his job as a forklift driver in a factory closing two years ago. "To me, it's just stunning to think they're not even ashamed of their disgusting greed."


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