Wednesday, March 25, 2009

So Is It "Really" Salary?

With due respect to the defense of oversized financial industry bonuses, unrelated to profit or performance, can industry insiders please make up their minds? Addressing Edward Liddy, disgruntled employee Jake DeSantis, states,
As 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.
But that was apparently contingent upon these special retention bonuses,
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.
The bonuses are thus characterized as "earnings".
On March 16 I received a payment from A.I.G. amounting to $742,006.40, after taxes.
Now, I have no reason to doubt that Mr. DeSantis is a good guy who works really hard, made lots of money for his company, had no direct hand in the collapse of his division, and... well, I can't go so far as assuming that he didn't know "what the right hand was doing", down in the corner office, but let's leave that alone for now.

The editorial suggests that Mr. DeSantis agreed to work for $1/year in salary because he knew he was going to be paid about $3-4 million in bonuses for the year. (I'm guessing, based upon his description of the accelerated bonus schedule and the amount he received in this "balance of the payments".) If the bonus truly is a form of salary, Mr. DeSantis should have no complaint - he agreed to a $1 salary. If the bonus is not a form of salary, and was payable without regard to performance, let's stop pretending it was "earnings". Please - pick one door or the other, but not both. (Yes, it's okay to say something like, "The bonuses were really part of my salary, so I actually agreed to cut my salary by about 10-20% when I accepted the $1 deal." Granted, it doesn't sound as good.)


  1. 1) But for billions of dollars of tax payer money, Mr. DeSantis would have been without a job long ago. So he can spare me the song and dance about elected officials interfering with his compensation package . . .

    2) Anyone who is stupid and arrogant enough to first write and then have published a letter in which he both claims credit for agreeing to work for "only one dollar" and then whines that people are unfairly asking him to return all or some of the 4 million dollars that was "promised" to him deserves nothing but scorn and contempt.

    3) Like so many of his brethern, he is sure he knows who is responsible for the reckless behavior that bankrupted his company and the US economy, he is sure that they don't work at AIG anymore, but he just can't seem to remember what there names were or where they are now, or why he didn't do or say anything about their conduct when he was cashing his bonus checks in years gone by . . .

    4) I like the way he implies that it was "a sense of charity" that caused him to "continue working a job that paid him 4 million dollars a year" but that now that he is in danger of not getting his 4 million dollars and he may be getting some flack for receiving (what he admits in his letter is too much money) he is quitting.


  2. He told us who is responsible - "Joe the Electrician". ;-)

    And how about this: Unlike Samuel... er, "Joe the Plumber", the "electrician" actually is named Joe.

  3. A memory:

    Marge: "Where'd you get all the money?"

    Grampa: "The government. I didn't earn it, I don't need it, but if they miss one payment, I'll raise hell!"