How Do You Solve A Problem Like AIG? Suicide.

Another day, another livid politician. Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa told a Cedar Rapids radio station that the AIG executives who are taking bonuses should, as an alternative, kill themselves.

Grassley suggests:

“I suggest, you know, obviously, maybe they ought to be removed. But I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they’d follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I’m sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide. And in the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology.”

Somehow we doubt the AIG executives feel the same way…

GOP Senator Suggests AIG Bonus Execs Kill Themselves [Gothamist]

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  1. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    First off, the accompanying image is awesome.

    Second, I feel like this senator might come to apologize for his statements, whether the rest of America agrees or not. Suicide’s quite serious. As a senator, he might come under fire.

    • Anonymous says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: Suicide is what they did with our money and economy, so it would only be fair.

      But I agree with you, he will probably back track a little if he hasn’t already.

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: But the Japanese model is valid and is practiced. Apologizing for describing Japanese culture is an insult to Japan.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @Corporate_guy: It’s not a particularly ACCURATE description of Japanese culture. He may find the initial comment gets him in trouble across the left-hand pond.

    • Piemonkey says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: He’s talking about honour killing. Consumerist labelled it suicide.

      • Pious_Augustus says:

        @Piemonkey:

        It is suicide but they call it Seppuku which is a ritual sucide and Seppuku in the Eastern World is an honorable thing and it used to be honorable to “Fall on ones sword” in the Western world for the Romans.

        In fact a rape victium of the Roman Kingdom who fell on her sword for honor is what caused the Brutus to lead the people of Roman to overthrow their King and create the Roman Republic (Which after 500 years became the Roman Empire).

        Also noting Honor Killing is an Muslim/Arabic practice. For example a Texas Arabic man killed his two daughters because they talked like American women and went out with boys.

        Honor killing is common in the Islamic World.

        • pz says:

          @Pious_Augustus: You had me until the Islamic example.

          That was a very bad example.

          • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

            @mdmadph: It’s not – it isn’t particularly heartening or pleasant, but it is still practiced. There was an episode of Law & Order like this too – the father killed his daughter because she was dishonoring the family.

            • jimconsumer says:

              @Oranges w/ Cheese: Yeah, well, killing anybody is bullshit. Sorry. I don’t buy the ridiculous “You were dishonoring my family” argument. That’s horse shit. Nobody should be standing up for third world practices like this. It’s not OK just because it’s “their culture.”

    • Pious_Augustus says:

      @pecan 3.14159265:

      You want him to come out with, we are taking this comment very seriously?

  2. ADismalScience says:

    I, financial industry taxpayer, for Iraq and none of you ate a bullet, so hey! Let’s call it even.

    Methinks Congresspersons finally found a way to turn around that 9% approval rating: populist grandstanding. It’s a hell of a lot easier than effective governance, after all.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @ADismalScience: I would like to be the first person to welcome you to our country, the United States of America. I hope that you enjoy your new home and its sometimes curious customs. :)

      Interestingly, if you poll which party in Congress has better ratings, Dems have a much higher approval rating than Repubs. And, for those polled, they feel that (D) Congressmen would be doing a better job if they were more active, not less.

      And, of course, if the poll question is, Do you like your Congressman, vastly higher ratings result.

      • ADismalScience says:

        @Trai_Dep:

        Ha! On that first bit.

        As for your stats, right. Incumbency election rates are also very high. This data makes an effective argument that most Americans don’t know what they want or how to ask for it. Which is why feeding them a shit sandwich of bailout money is better than taking the heat for creating a brutal, rapid deleveraging scenario.

  3. kthxbai says:

    awesome sauce

  4. Ssscorpion says:

    How many members of Congress commit suicide after passing another budget deficit every year and then vote themselves a raise year after year?

    How are the a-holes at AIG any different from the a-holes in Congress?

  5. LegoMan322 says:

    I do not agree with AIG but what this guy said is just really wrong. There is no need for that.

  6. ben gardners boat says:

    As much as I hate how these execs are handling the situation, I hate it even more when politicians hop on a soap box and blurt out these outrageous statements to get some exposure for themselves. What good is this doing? Stop sitting in your office coming up with fancy/angry speeches to try to be relevant, and do some actual work towards fixing our economy.

    Otherwise, I kind of agree with the senator.

  7. Yossarian says:

    Grassley’s last couple of outbursts don’t seem to be particularly well reasoned.

  8. rbb says:

    Grassley is big hypocrite. He took $26,250 from AIG in 2007-2008 alone. Perhaps if he were to go first with his callous suggestion, others might follow.

    And obama could have easily stopped the bonuses from being paid out if he decided to not bail them out. Bankruptcy would have allowed AIG not to pay out the bonuses. But, by doing so, AIG was legally bound to pay out the bonuses.

    • Ninja007 says:

      @rbb: Obama cares more abuot attacking Rush Limbaugh than doing his job.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @rbb: Sure. Because six months ago, Paulson and Bush handed over the keys to the White House and Treasury to Obama and said, “We’ve hosed everything up good enough. Take the reins and fix everything okay, we’re going fishing!”
      Geez, you guys and your utter lack of personal responsibility and accountability.

      • Ninja007 says:

        @Trai_Dep: why are you making an assumption about me. You don’t know me. You cannot respond to the argument without making an ad hominem attack.

  9. maruawe42 says:

    The senator is only verbalizing what a lot of Americans are thinking.. Why give a bonus to someone that helped to cause the problem. everyone should be able to speak their minds without having to always be politically correct. That is why I stay in hot water I say what I think and don’t worry if it offends .I am not sorry for what I say .

  10. kimsama says:

    Ok, so when this statement blows up in Grassley’s face and he’s publicly shamed, can we expect to see him slice open his belly?

    • UX4themasses says:

      @kimsama: Not really sure what you are getting at here.

      He is shamed for being angry and demanding accountability?

      The only time things like this blow up in politicians’ faces is when people like you intimate you are ‘offended’.

      BOO HOO. If this was China, they’d all be on the end of a rope.

      • jimconsumer says:

        @UX4themasses: What are you saying? You wish we lived in China? You know, if you love socialism and heavy handed government so much, you can just move there instead of trying to remake our country in that fucked up image.

  11. madanthony says:

    Or they could, you know, just decline the bonuses. A few have said they would.

    And from earlier articles, the amount of the bonuses start at $1,000. If I was a mid-level AIG grunt getting a $1000, contractually agreed-on bonus, I would have a hard time turning it down, especially not knowing if I would have a job in the near future. I certainly wouldn’t feel bad enough about it to take my own life, but I don’t think I’d ever feel badly enough about anything to kill myself.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @madanthony: $1,000 is a faaaaaar cry from several million $$. Especially considering the people with the several million $ bonuses coming are probably already multi-millionaires (if not billionaires). I think they can do without just this once.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @madanthony: No one is upset at someone getting a $1,000 bonus. Get real.

    • LandruBek says:

      @madanthony: Assuming you were working for AIG, then why should you get any bonus at all? The freaking company sank in an ocean of red ink, after the company plowed headfirst into a hurricane. So why would you get an extra-special reward for doing such a fabulous job?

      You might be right though: if these “bonuses” are not really bonuses but just plain old wages, we should use the right word for them. The word “bonus” itself is a major reason all us taxpayers are foaming at the mouth. And any talk of “contractually obligated bonuses” seems to me like an oxymoron.

  12. FortyMegaFonzies says:

    It seems like an obvious case of hyperbole. He is not seriously advocating suicide, but the exageration in his statement accentuates the fact that an executive who would take such a bonus has no sense of honor or integrity. …I thought it was pretty funny.

  13. starrion says:

    If you’re waiting for public shaming, I don’t think it’s gonna happen.

    If someone picked up an AIG exec and tossed him off a high cliff, the only outrage you would see would be from the people who missed the opportunity to do the same.

  14. rpm773 says:

    Meh. Grassley’s a bit player here. It’s more fun watching Christopher Dodd chasing after the populist bandwagon on this issue.

    Stupid fool.

    • rbb says:

      @rpm773: Since you didn’t add the best part from thearticle, here it is:

      “While the Senate constructed the $787 billion stimulus last month, Dodd unexpectedly added an executive-compensation restriction to the bill. That amendment provides an “exception for contractually obligated bonuses agreed on before Feb. 11, 2009,” which exempts the very AIG bonuses Dodd and others are seeking to tax. The amendment is in the final version and is law.

      Also, Sen. Dodd was AIG’s largest single recipient of campaign donations during the 2008 election cycle with $103,100, according to opensecrets.org. “

      Tell me again why no one else is screaming for dodd’s head for taking a sweetheart loan from countrywide, for this, and a whole lot more. Oh, right. I forgot, it has something to do with the (D)…

      • sebadoh128 says:

        @rbb:

        Well, you see, in Dodd’s defense, he was for the bonuses before he was against them.

      • drjayphd says:

        @rbb: Or it could be that not only are people calling for his head here in CT, his potential opponent (Rob Simmons) is already in the lead in the 2010 race. Just a thought.

  15. rickinsthelens says:

    Well, at least he is not taking it seriously.

    Although a ridiculous statement, I have to give him props for saying it. When most politicians take the mugwump approach, and refuse to commit to anything, he went to edge, jumped, and then started flapping his arms to gain speed. Gotta admire that.

  16. winstonthorne says:

    Oh lighten up everyone! Props to that senator for having a sense of humor and the stones to state this common sentiment openly. I will now go about the rest of my day humming the theme song to M*A*S*H and smiling on the inside.

  17. Odiase says:

    Seppuku. Yeah, thats the ticket…

  18. lpranal says:

    Props to the people who understand the intent of hyperbole like this.

    Everybody knows he’s not really telling people to kill themselves. That’s just ignorant and overly PC to assume such. And the statement itself is really no worse than someone saying we should just let these guys have our money and deal with it.

  19. h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

    I’m not sure where Grassley is getting his sources. It was my understanding that the apology was part of the ritual of seppuku when it was warranted (not all ritualistic suicides were for violations of the code). Mitford describes a pre-hara-kiri apology speech in Tales of Old Japan.

  20. ThickSkinned says:

    This is the perfect opportunity to bring back public stoning, and not in a good way. Seppuku is nice, but too private. Call me a vengeful, bitter cynic, but I want blood from these assbags.

    • Colage says:

      @ThickSkinned: Thank God for people like you to encourage crass populism. Otherwise, who knows what I’d read in the morning?

    • sebadoh128 says:

      @ThickSkinned:

      So, what is the exchange rate on blood?

      Can you tell me what retailers accept blood as a valid form of payment?

      Feeling good, feeling better or getting your pound of flesh is not going to pay the bills people.

      • HFC says:

        @sebadoh128: “Feeling good, feeling better or getting your pound of flesh is not going to pay the bills people.”

        You know what else won’t pay the bills? Giving these people their bonuses.

        • sebadoh128 says:

          @HFC:

          If you can’t see this for the red herring it is, my apologies. This isn’t about bonuses, it is about responsible, effective leadership.

          See, I deserve a Government that functions well and governs effectively. Not a government that bends like reeds in the wind to faux populist pressure.

          What this is, is lip service. They want to appear busy and appear to be outraged, because Americans don’t want solutions or answers, they want outrage and a boogie man to chase and be scared of at the same time.

          The government loves this, because instead of WORKING to fix the problems (they helped create), they get to spend time making lists and publicly shaming OTHER people, to keep the heat off where it really belongs, on them.

          Enjoy your Schadenfreude.

          • HFC says:

            @sebadoh128: When you say “this,” which “this” are you referring to? “This” story is, on the surface, about bonuses. “This” American outrage is, at the moment, about bonuses. “This” lip service is also, on the surface, about bonuses.

            If these AIG execs weren’t getting their bonuses after running their company and our country into the ground, there wouldn’t be: “this” story, “this” outrage or “this” lip service.

            As obvious as this red herring is, it doesn’t change the fact that, as you said, Americans want outrage. So, an official, who was elected by some of those Americans, is giving them what they want.

            Part of effective political leadership is giving your constituents what they want. Grassley is being an effective leader. Part of effective business leadership is keeping your business running and holding those responsible for its failure… well, responsible for its failure and not rewarding them by giving them bonuses that were definitely NOT earned. AIG does not have effective leadership.

            Do I think Grassley really wants these people to kill themselves? No. Do I think he will continue to fight against this type of disgrace? No. Do I appreciate someone in the public eye voicing the feelings that so many Americans have? Yes.

        • jimconsumer says:

          @HFC: Giving these people their bonuses has absolutely nothing to do with your ability to pay your bills. It’s completely immaterial. You talk as if we crucify these people and take the bonuses away from them, that suddenly you’ll have more money in your pocket. It doesn’t work that way. Money is not a finite resource – just because I have more of it, does not mean somebody else has to have less.

          Note that I am NOT supporting the bonuses, but I’m not blaming AIG, either. I blame the idiots running the federal government for bailing these morons out in the first place.

          • HFC says:

            @jimconsumer: I don’t need any help paying my bills, than you. I don’t think anyone believes that taking bonuses away from AIG executives will give anyone else the ability to pay their bills. What I DO believe, though, is taking bonuses away from AIG executives will give AIG the ability to pay THEIR bills, which is what the bailout was intended to do.

            Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there should have been a bailout in the first place. It’s too late to argue about that, though. All we can do now is try to have our money spent responsibly.

    • Xerloq says:

      @ThickSkinned: Actually, Seppuku was a highly public spectacle, often drawing large crowds if planned. Many people witnessing the act was essential to restore honor to the shamed.

      Unfortunately, Seppuku (and much of Japanese tradition) expects that people originally intend to act with honor – something that has been lost in the US for a long time. No honor would be restored, and thus the statement simply amounts to a lot of wind-bagging.

      To those in favor of the remark, how does it feel to have your ego stroked?

  21. Colage says:

    Maybe instead of suicide, we should just organize the youth of America to give savage beatings to people who we don’t like. We’ll give them red armbands.

    I’m just thinking off the cuff here, sorry.

    • HFC says:

      @Colage: You’re right, hating people for playing a major role in the financial downfall of our country is the same as hating them for their heritage.

      • Colage says:

        @HFC: You’re presupposing way too much. You don’t know who got the bonuses. What if a junior VP who had nothing to do with the derivatives trading whose division increased revenue by tens of millions of dollars got a million dollar bonus? This whole thing is murky and reeks of cheap stunts by lawmakers. In the scheme of things, $165 million isn’t even that big of a line item for a company with more than 110,000 employees.

        All I’m saying is that people should stop presuming to know the facts before rushing to judgment, as you so clearly are.

        And second, I was referring to the red guards, not the Nazis. I think that comparison is rather apt.

  22. artieb says:

    I think the best thing for AIG to do right now is to have the bonuses paid out and then have each recipient be tasked with writing a check to Uncle Sam for said bonus money. End of story.

  23. Myron says:

    I wonder how they’re getting 30 year annualized returns going back to 1928 for the S&P 500 when that index was created in 1957

  24. chris_d says:

    Grassley is good at talking. But when it comes to getting results, well, he’s a member of Congress, so don’t hold your breath.

  25. prag says:

    It’s not an inappropriate idea. The problem is the total lack of honor among the AIG executives. There’s none left for them to try to preserve. Regardless, The bonus recipients will eventually be outed one way or another. They will become outcasts and their opinions might change. Heck, one or two of them might actually have the courage to do the right thing.

  26. vastrightwing says:

    A:Rhetoric. that’s always the prefered answer.

  27. From the cubicle of PGibbons says:

    This would only work if the people involved had the ability to experience shame, as “saving face” is deeply important in many Asian cultures.

    It should be plainly obvious by now to everyone that the vast majority of the people that have steered our economy straight into depression fail to grok “shame.” They are on the take when times are good, they are on the take when times are bad.

    When CEOs and upper management are pulling in millions/billions at the same time the workers are making minimum wage, kids are starving and all on the brink of eviction – something is very wrong with society.

    Funny how these “contracts” are so sacrosanct when it comes to overly-compensated white collar workers that actively created this ponzi scheme. But when it came to the blue collar guys’ contracts – who had no say in the decisions of the Big 3 to overbuild crappy land yachts – they forced the workers to abandon the “contract” before the money was even approved. So much for “contracts” not being changeable…

  28. TheMonkII says:

    As someone who hates what the top brass within AIG is doing, one must wonder, what do their internal meetings sound like these days? All sitting around the table discussing their bad breaks and how their taking a beating in the press. Perhaps suicide isn’t the wrong way to go for these douche bags. I really feel that there needs to be some accountability here. Not just a slap on the wrist.

  29. Bill2me says:

    Except this isn’t hyperbole.

    This is yet another example of a politician going over the top and making a statement that is a) insensitive, b) ridiculous, and c) inflammatory.

    Leaving aside how offensive I’m sure this could be to the Japanese and families dealing with suicide the statement essentially says he feels that AIG executives deserve to die.

    Of course we all know that politicians don’t mean what they say but how is a statement like this in any way productive?

    How does it help the people who were victims of predatory lenders?

    How does it help the people losing their jobs while government fat cats vacation out of the country while planning increased gas taxes (that will cost more people jobs!)?

    This Bozo is pandering to the people who aren’t smart enough to realize that he, his party,and his opposition’s party created this fiasco by opening the doors and encouraging predatory behavior.

  30. Alex Duzik says:

    Don’t blame me! I vote against this idiot every six years.

  31. Anonymous says:

    I don’t want apologies. I want prison sentences. Here’s a thought. Instead of giving $800 BILLION to the corporate thieves, split it evenly amongst the US taxpayers. Trickle down isn’t working, so let’s try some trickle UP economics for a change.

  32. ncpeters says:

    Grassley can say this because he knows he has a job for life. As an Iowan I can state with certainty that we won’t be electing anyone other than Grassley or Harkin until they stop running.

  33. johnva says:

    I can’t believe how many people are so offended by this.

    His point is: what these guys did is shameful. In fact, it is so shameful that they need to make up for it in a very serious way. Ritual suicide is a way of retaining honor in defeat, and it’s perfectly respectable. What AIG execs did certainly would have merited that in cultures that practiced ritual suicide.

    Of course, in our culture, we tend to have a negative opinion of suicide. It’s just our cultural prejudices. So while I think he was saying this to shock, he didn’t ACTUALLY mean that they should literally kill themselves. He just means that something nearly that drastic would be required for them to redeem themselves honorably. And he’s 100% right. At the very least, they should be ashamed to take the bonuses voluntarily.

    • JollyJumjuck says:

      @johnva: I believe that for at least some of the AIG executives, the concepts of “shame” and “honor” are woefully beyond their mental capacity.

      • johnva says:

        @JollyJumjuck: I agree. That’s the whole point behind making a statement like this, and that’s why I agree with it. It’s an intentionally provocative and shocking statement to American ears, and that’s why it’s very appropriate for this situation.

  34. superberg says:

    Do Japanese executive really commit suicide these days? I’ve never heard of it happening — just Americans citing it.

    Frankly, I think justice would be to see them manning the fryer at a Mickey D’s, not dead. We can’t see them suffer if they’re dead.

  35. dwhuntley says:

    I think whoever came up with the idea of these monster bailouts and stimulus package should be the ones to rub themselves out. Heck, China is more capitalistic than America is now! What the hell happened!

  36. Anonymous says:

    Since the government has an 80% stake in the company why not fire all these idiots? They obviously are not adding anything to the bottom line of the company. Haul them in front of congress to share any important information and fire them one by one and publicly shame them by releasing their bonus information and information about how they wasted tax payer dollars. Having your career opportunities ruined is certainly payback for willfully doing a bad job and stealing from tax payers in the process.

    Almost as bad as Mrs. Antoinette as she said “Let them eat cake”. As American’s I am horrified that we are NOT hauling these people up on criminal charges and having a modern day public execution in the media. America! Wake up already!!!

  37. synergy says:

    Well, Japanese CEOs don’t make thousands of times more than their employees. More like maybe 50 times or something like that.

  38. Johnny Cache says:

    Who give’s a flying fuck about “outrage”?
    Get your hand out of my pocket and stop giving away our tax dollars.It’s pretty simple.

  39. HeartBurnKid, creepy morbid freak says:

    This is the first time in a long time I’ve agreed with anything a Republican has said.

  40. rockergal says:

    honestly I wish he was my congressman, he would have my eternal vote.

    if any of those blood sucking AIG execs are reading, I can supply you with a rope free of charge.

  41. Julia789 says:

    I don’t find this funny. Someone where I work smashed a window and jumped out of the skyscraper to his death last week. In front of everyone in the office. He left behind a wife and small children. There was nothing “honorable” about his actions, as this lawmaker would suggest and/or joke about. It ruined his family. Suicide is not to be joked about. Those poor children, crying and wanting to know why their dad is not coming home.

  42. trujunglist says:

    I call kaishaku!