Maybe we (as in “We the People”) should buy the 20% of AIG that we don’t own and fire the all the geniuses behind the meltdown.
Yes, the bonuses are probably legitimate, in that they are contractually sound. And yes, the AIG bailout was pretty clearly a necessary evil, given how many other institutions and states might have gone down as a result of playing the credit default swap sweepstakes (and it was nothing more than a sweepstakes, with AIG playing with house odds).
But Barney Frank is right – “These people may have a right to their bonuses, they don’t have a right to their jobs forever”. The “we-need-the-bonuses-to-retain-good-talent” trope is a bit ridiculous when you consider that there is a hell of a lot of good Wall Street talent sitting idle right now. The vast majority of whom probably had nothing to do with an engineering a global credit meltdown. But maybe there is some merit in retaining AIG’s good talent, if for no other reason than that they are the ones who best know how much they’ve fucked everything up. (Besides, they’ll be easier to find when it comes time to indict them.)