This letter was published in numerous newspapers. My initial reaction was sort of sympathetic to the man's words. However, with the opportunity to mull it over, I now feel more inclined to view it as the puerile bleating of a whiner. So, I decided to write back.
Dear Mr DeSantis:
When I first read your letter, my gut response was “Way to go, Jake. You told it like it is.” But, Jake, after finishing a cup of coffee and allowing my mind to wrestle with your words, my visceral and intellectual reaction is now, “So who cares, you self centered fool.”
Why the 180 degree turn? Well, for openers, you are not the only one in our country with whom an employer, the financial community (including AIG), his neighbors and/or the government have broken faith. It’s just that the numbers seem bigger when applied to your case. At least in your eyes. AIG not only broke faith with you, it broke faith with all of us. Perhaps not your specific division, but the company as a whole, and in the short run, you and your division reaped benefit from the actions of the whole.
Secondly, I find it interesting that your magnanimous offer is to turn the “post tax” proceeds of your bonus to “those suffering from the global economic downturn”. Is this an attempt to paint the government as the enemy, lest they tax your bonus too heavily and thereby punish those already victimized by the AIGs of this country? Prior to the public outcry, were you planning to be so beneficent? Does your offered contribution amount to the slightest drop in the bucket of damage that AIG and it’s fellow travelers have inflicted upon the common working stiff as they recklessly sought profits. Can you produce another letter, over your signature, calling upon AIG to be more prudent back when the seeds of this disaster were being planted.
As to those whom your recently proclaimed donation is said to benefit, are you aware of the relative difference between their current suffering and that which you express in the claim against your million dollar bonus? Will you lose your home and find it difficult to put a roof over your family's head? Will you be unable to afford routine health care? Has your retirement been wiped out? Or are we talking about a minor lifestyle adjustment?
Yes, Jake, you worked 10 to 14 hours a day, expecting to receive a million or so bucks for a year’s work. Others had to work the same hours, hoping to receive some 40,000 bucks, make ends meet and still have a job at the end of the year to start the process all over again. Actions of firms like AIG shattered the modest hopes of a couple of million of these folks, and you feel like you have been singled out for shabby treatment?
I wish you well, Jake, even if I find your whining repulsive. If you really want to impress us, divest yourself of all the wealth you have amassed, buy a middle class home, spend a couple of years working 10 to 14 hours a day at the median income, try to restart a retirement plan from scratch and then report back how righteous you feel.