Thanks to Al Giordano for writing this column so that I don't have to.
Whenever executive salary and bonus caps have been discussed in the context of the various bailouts and rescue packages, I have supported any draconian measure that legislators have been willing to contemplate. I think it would be difficult to overstate the moral and ethical culpability of these executives and traders in this financial disaster. And if that means they quit their jobs, big deal. There are plenty of unemployed financial workers who would be happy to have them.
But this drama over the AIG bonuses leaves me cold. I just can't bring myself to give a shit about it. Given the context we talking about here, it is small potatoes and completely unsurprising. The mad rush of media personalities and politicians to trump one anothers' expressions of outrage, on the other hand, inspires a fairly visceral reaction in me (nausea). There are few things more pathetic than the panic of a politician who suspects that he or she may be missing a populist moment, and their willingness to dive head first off a cliff in hopes of landing on the bandwagon. And I can't help but suspect that if there were real populist outrage over this it would have taken longer to build and longer for the press to pick up on it. When the media goes into full-on shrieking populist outrage mode the moment it hears about the story, it rather seems like it's the media that's outraged more than the populace.