It's common sense that you don't let people make a decision on something they don't know about; especially when they're pissed off. But that's exactly what we did by allowing public opinion to determine what happened with the AIG bonuses.
The American public didn't know the whole story. The bonuses weren't "bonuses" in the sense that we think. Those guys were paid $1 for 2008. The "bonuses" were the only compensation they expected to receive for the year. But we told them to give it all back because we thought it was money on top of their regular pay.
It doesn't matter how we feel about AIG. If you were promised a paycheck at the end of the year, you should get it. They got bills too. Yea, I know, most people say to hell with rich people, let them suffer. But I want to know who in the witch hunt would work for free for a year cleaning up someone else's financial mess? Not many volunteers. Actually there is someone who has done it--the CEO of AIG, ED Liddy. He has no stock options and gets paid a $1 annual salary. He does not financially benefit from AIG at all. Funny how the angry pundits never mentioned that. And he gets death threats in the mail.
We should have let them fail. They made terrible bets a nd should have paid for them. But we didn't. We decided to keep them alive. So let's let them get back to good health. Demonizing them does nothing. Let's forget about the payments and get back to fixing the economy.