Brian Montopoli of CBS’s Econwatch says we shouldn’t be shedding any tears for Jake DeSantis, the AIG guy whose resignation letter ran in the New York Times today.
Here’s an excerpt of Montopoli’s case against DeSantis:
Some of DeSantis’ complaints are valid. Subtleties and imporyant distinctions were lost amid the populist uproar over the AIG bonuses, and threats to name bonus recipients, which were never acted upon, were misguided. DeSantis and others who did not act improperly did not deserve to have been lumped in with those at his company who did.
And yet DeSantis’ letter reflects a tone-deafness that is particularly galling during the current economic crisis. He writes that he has been “spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family” working for AIG and that the “profitability of the businesses with which I was associated clearly supported my compensation.”
Many Americans work long days for far less compensation than DeSantis accumulated over his 11 years at AIG. Though DeSantis deserves to be well paid for his work, his complaints about his recent treatment – coming at a time when many Americans are being paid far less for their hard work, if they can find a job at all – reflect a Wall Street culture that is so insulated from the rest of the country that even the relatively good actors do not realise the privileged space they occupy.
Despite the AIG debacle, after all, DeSantis remains a clear economic winner. While he does not specify his salary in the letter, he does note that his bonus this year $742,006.40, after taxes. While he is giving back all or most of that bonus, he is presumably keeping the millions of dollars he has made from the company over the years.
There is nothing wrong with that. But there is something troubling about his apparent belief, reflected in both the decision to release the letter and in its contents, that he is somehow deserving of our sympathy.
Did DeSantis experience unfair treatment over the past year? Yes. Would most Americans nonetheless trade places with him in a heartbeat? Most definitely.