Monday, June 22, 2009

AIG: Before the Big Bonus Debacle

© 2009 Leighann Lord

When you get fired or laid off from a job there’s a reason why Security escorts you to the door. They don’t want you making a scene or robbing them blind. Being professionally dumped can be devastating. Your first thought may not always be mature. Instead of "What can I learn from this?" or "There’s a bigger and better job waiting for me" you might really be thinking: "If it’s not nailed down, I’m taking it."

It doesn’t matter that you don’t have room in your house for a Kinkos-sized copy machine. So what if you’ll never use 17 boxes of roller ball pens. A fax machine may be almost as antiquated as an IBM Selectric but you’re taking it, because they owe you.

Some employers write this off as the cost of doing business. If your personal severance package includes a case of paper clips and sticky notes so be it; as long as it keeps you from coming back armed and disgruntled. But there’s a limit to what a company will tolerate and it’s safe to say that Maurice "Hank" Greenberg breached it.

Before AIG became the new Enron — the symbol of corporate greed run amok, and the focal point of our collective anger over bad management, bailouts and big bonuses — there was Hank. Hank is the former CEO of AIG who was forced out of the company back in 2005 during investigations into accounting irregularities.

Shortly after his ouster, he is accused of pilfering $4.3 billion from AIG’s retirement program. At the civil trial that began last week in New York, AIG’s attorney claimed Hank took the money out of anger. Hmmm... Pushed out of a company he worked at and built up for 35 years? Yeah, he might be a bit pissed.

Top corporate executives make more money, get more perks and are sparred the indignity of the claustrophobic cubicle. It makes sense that an acrimonious and involuntary parting of ways might make a high level guy seek high level pay back. But a former CEO isn’t going to be satisfied with mere office supplies. A golden parachute that size may need a little extra lining; $4.3 billion worth to be exact.

If there is a lesson to be learned here perhaps it’s that human nature – our sense of greed and entitlement – is universal. And perhaps I should have been an executive and held out for more than just the Selectric.

Thank you for reading Leighann Lord's Comic Perspective

Please feel free to subscribe or visit for news, Leighann's TV ppearances, live stand-up comedy shows or to join the mailing list. You can also follow her on MySpace FaceBook Twitter!

No comments: