Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Yeah, capitalism’s a bitch. Deal with it.

A reader’s response to today’s NYT OP/ED contribution: a reprint of a letter of resignation submitted by Jake DeSantis, Executive Vice President of AIG-Financial Products.

Lately, a lot of people have been experiencing a version of the distress, frustration and anger Mr. DeSantis describes. You work hard; you do nothing wrong; your company tanks because other people were stupid or wasteful; your own employment and income prospects turn dark. You are asked to continue working, to help save the company, but there are no guarantees . . .

Unless the taxpayers are underwriting your million dollar contractually guaranteed bonus!

Few workers have been offered that kind of safety net, because few work for private businesses funded with public dollars. That seems to be the part of the puzzle that Mr. DeSantis and his colleagues have not figured out. They are basically civil servants now, and their contracts for continued employment should have been negotiated to accept that reality: neither asking anyone to work for $1 nor guaranteeing anyone that the dollar would turn into millions at some future date.

I have nothing against Mr. DeSantis personally. I applaud his decision to donate his post-tax bonus to charity. I agree that he and his co-workers did not deserve to be publically heckled and I would not expect any of them to work for free. But he's not just the victim of "politics" or "Washington." He's the victim of a form of denial that seems to afflict many in institutions that have received federal funds.

When the big profits disappeared, so did the big incomes. Deal with it.

No comments: