In all of the controversy over the AIG bonuses, the one side that we haven’t heard from is the actual employees of the financial products unit who received the bonuses. Today, the New York Times has run as an op-ed the resignation letter of Jake DeSantis, an executive vice president of the troubled AIG unit. In the letter, DeSantis explains:
I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G. I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so. Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down.
According to the letter, he worked in the commodity trading division, which has been profitable for AIG, and he played a role in the pending sale of that division to UBS — a sale that will generate money for the taxpayer.
As most of us have done nothing wrong, guilt is not a motivation to surrender our earnings. We have worked 12 long months under these contracts and now deserve to be paid as promised. None of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house.
Many of the employees have, in the past six months, turned down job offers from more stable employers, based on A.I.G.’s assurances that the contracts would be honored. They are now angry about having been misled by A.I.G.’s promises and are not inclined to return the money as a favor to you.
The only real motivation that anyone at A.I.G.-F.P. now has is fear. Mr. Cuomo has threatened to “name and shame,” and his counterpart in Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, has made similar threats — even though attorneys general are supposed to stand for due process, to conduct trials in courts and not the press.
He writes that he plans to donate all of his $742,006.40 bonus — after taxes — to charities assisting people affected by the economic crisis.
The whole letter is well worth a read, because it illuminates the fact that at AIG, just like everywhere else, there are people who are suffering as a result of the irresponsibility and sins of others. And in all of the public outrage and grandstanding on Capitol Hill, it’s important to keep in mind that not all AIG employees were guilty of blowing up the financial system.
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