In response to the uproar over the millions of dollars in bonuses paid to the executives of AIG (you know, that company that would be bankrupt if not for the billions of dollars in loans it's taken from the US government), AIG management explains that it had no choice but to pay those bonuses because it was contractually obligated to do so. The Treasury Department, despite wagging its finger sternly at AIG, appears to accept that argument.
On salon.com Glenn Greenwald details why AIG's argument is transparently bogus
. Contracts get renegotiated all the time when companies are in financial jeopardy. So what makes these contracts untouchable?
The truth must be that it's either a) a case of blatant cronyism, or b) the executives have some leverage that would make it more painful NOT to pay them than to pay them. (The latter argument is detailed here
What confuses me is the use of this word "bonus". Evidently these guys expect this money regardless of their own job performance or of how well the company does. In which case, shouldn't the payment be called "guaranteed compensation" or something similar? Calling it a bonus makes it seem analogous to the tip a waiter receives for good service.