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The Sciences

AIG bonus pay & shame

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanMarch 17, 2009 1:37 AM


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I've kind of been thinking this already: Provoking the AIG Walk of Shame:

What would happen if those names were made public? The populist rage that's bubbling in this country is not something to be toyed with. The very prospect of having their names publicized should be enough to scare the pants off these people. The only way to break these employment contracts is for the recipients to agree to it, and if fear is what it takes to make that happen, then so be it. If we can shame bank CEOs into taking $1 salaries and forgoing bonuses, surely we can get these yahoos at AIG to do the country a favor and continue unwinding their mess for a respectable salary instead of an outrageous, unjustified bonus.

People have short memories and attention spans, so I don't know if this will really work in the long term. But, social media is supposedly powerful. Someone should quickly put a YouTube with names & headshots of AIG executives who are getting these bonuses (AIG is a nationalized company, so surely the name will come out). It isn't difficult to find out where people live once you know their names. It wouldn't be surprising if flashmobs start picketing the mansions of the AIG executives. Legally they're supposedly due the bonus money. Ethically, perhaps not. The best leverage then is to start cranking at basic social psychology. Additionally, the public opprobrium that would be hurled at the executives and their families might serve as a way to correct for the unfortunate moral hazard these bailouts are probably engendering. Related:Jim Manzi offers some perspective.

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