AIG is about to funnel $165 million of our $170 billion in life support into executive bonuses (boni? if only!). The corporate lawyers plead that is contractually bound to pay the bonuses to "the best and brightest talent" that has run the company into 80% government ownership.
These are probably the same lawyers arguing that AIG has no obligation to the pension funds that lost money thanks to AIG's risk-taking, fishy books, and assurances that they wouldn't lose big on the subprime crisis. (Also suing AIG: New Orleans, Ontario Teachers, Canada.) Their lawyer brethren have certainly won the right for corporations like United Airlines to default on pensions for their rank-and-file employees, and pensions are certainly a contractual obligation. Defaulting on or even simply "deferring" some executive benefits until those executives do something other than turning the global economy into a Ponzi scheme shouldn't be a problem.
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