There’s been a lot of discussion around the office today about this Op-Ed in the New York Times written by former AIG employee Jake DeSantis that doubled as his letter of resignation as an Executive Vice President of AIG’s Financial Products unit. DeSantis, who intends to take his bonus of $742,006.40 and give it to charity, feels that since he (according to him) had nothing to do with the CDS business that sunk the AIG ship, he has been treated unfairly by the media, the government, and AIG CEO Edward Liddy. And there’s some level of truth to this. Not all of AIG’s employees were involved directly with making billions of dollars in bets they had no money to cover.
But, let’s not forget that AIG’s heretofore Financial Products division — which rewarded DeSantis lavishly over his career — was made artificially profitable by the horrible bets made by “other” people he worked with or near. These bets were not backed by real, actual money anyone had anywhere, but before they imploded, they profited AIG — and Jake DeSantis — enormously. Without getting to heavily into the metaphysics of the matter, you could argue that this money AIG used to pay DeSantis’ absurdly high salary never existed in the first place. So there’s that. But more concretely, Jake DeSantis would not even have the opportunity to work for $1 if the government had not ponied up $170 billion to keep the knee-breakers at bay. That is, were it not for this hulking heap of taxpayer cash, Jake DeSantis would be completely out of the job, which, I’ll add, is precisely what is supposed to happen in a capitalist free market economy. Instead, you have a situation where a variety of factors have made the “let them fail” course the worst of all possibilities, and Jake DeSantis still has a job and an opportunity to turn things around. All things considered, this is fairly good fortune for someone working at arguably the most odious culprit in the ruination of the American economy, and you’d think it would be enough to curb any desire to loudly bitch about unfair treatment. But I suppose not.
Now again, DeSantis’ argument makes a certain, small amount of sense, but in the words of Lao Tzu: give me a fucking break, man.