Friday, October 17, 2008

1 Year + 160 Conferences = YOUR MONEY

Oh, hey, good news! (Please note how that opening line is just dripping with sarcasm.) Remember those AIG executives who took the money that we, the taxpayers, so generously "loaned" them and went off to England on some partridge hunt (Who does that? Seriously? At the very least, if they were going to piss my money away, couldn't they at least have done something that seems a little more manly? Couldn't they have played rugby or something and acted like real men instead of the pansy asses that they are?) According to the hoity-toity folks on the right coast at the New York Times "The attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, said on Thursday that A.I.G. would also cancel 160 conferences and other events that would have cost more than $8 million and would provide information on compensation, bonuses and other payments to determine whether the payments were proper." Oh. My. God.

Are you kidding me?!?! Now, don't get me wrong, I'm glad they were cancelled, they should have been cancelled. I am appalled at the amount of money, the number of conferences and the fact that this company had ZERO capital just a month ago! Clearly, these conferences are not working very well to improve the quality of the work that their employees do! But aside from that, one hundred and sixty effing conferences?!?! That is one conference every 2.28 days!! How, how, HOW is it possible to have 160 conferences in ONE YEAR!! AND still have people at the company actually working?!?! I'll do the math on this one and tell you that it comes out to approximately $50,000 per conference. So, $50,000 every 2.28 days for an entire year was going to be spent by AIG until they were informed that it might not bode so well with the angry villagers if they did that. Villagers are rarely happy to begin with, so it's not a good idea to do things that will, in fact, anger them.

Also reported was that "A.I.G. had agreed to suspend a $10 million severance payment to its chief financial officer, Stephen J. Bensinger, who is leaving the company." Ten million? For leaving the company? Is he going into the witness protection program? Why in the hell does he get ten million dollars when he is the chief financial officer of a FAILED financial company?!?! And why is it "suspend"? Why isn't it "Are you freaking kidding me? Get out of here!"

Now, maybe I'm jumping to conclusions (I'm not). Maybe these conferences aren't as outlandish as they sound (they are). Maybe we can find something reasonable about them (we can't). Hmmmm....well, "Among the events that A.I.G. has agreed to cancel are a $750,000 “best operator” event in Las Vegas" (Best operator? At an essentially bankrupt financial institution? Well, clearly there isn't one! If there was perhaps they would have been "operating" with their own money and not with mine!) "and a $500,000 risk management conference scheduled for the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay, near San Francisco." (Risk management? Here's your first lesson: When you see the light from the torches coming over the hill...run!) "The company will also cancel a $350,000 sales conference in November at Sea Island, Ga., and a $190,000 meeting scheduled for Scottsdale, Ariz., in January."

The fact that they basically had to be told by the attorney general that they needed to cancel their 160 conferences for the year rather than just realizing that it needed to be done does not bode well with me. (You folks have NO capital. You might, just might have to cut back on a couple of things. NO, not toilet paper! Things like those 160 conferences that don't do anyone a damn bit of good and you know it.) They couldn't just figure that out on their own that it made sense to cut out the $8 in unnecessary conferences. Sure, they're going to have that company up and on it's feet and running itself in no time flat! I can see it now. What could possibly go wrong?

And has anyone been fired? No, of course not, because the people who do the firing are the people who are doing all of the...other word that begins with an F. You know, that thing they're doing to the taxpayers. That's the one! Not so enjoyable when it's the AIG guys doin' it to ya, is it?

But here's the thing: See how easy it was for this to be brought up? It wasn't hard. No, because when people who are overseeing things actually do their friggin' job stuff gets done or, in this case, doesn't get done. The point is that I can't help but think and wonder if the Federal oversight committees that are supposed to be overseeing operations in the financial industry had done their job BEFORE the majority of the banks basically gave away all of their money with no hope of ever seeing it again, if this might have been able to be avoided to some degree. I think it might. So while those Congressmen and Congresswomen are over there, sitting behind their little microphone and peering over the top of their reading glasses at some executive from a failed bank who walked with millions of dollars in severance pay and/or bonuses, they're patting themselves on the back for "fully investigating" what went wrong. Let me save you folks some time! The bank guys? Yeah, they were stupid and greedy. You folks on the committees to make sure stuff like this doesn't happen? Yeah, you're just stupid.

But keep on acting like you're doing such a great job and everyone should be in awe of you if you're ever in their presence and even if you're not. Eventually, someone who isn't a politician might believe you.

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