Beliefnet
Progressive Revival

AIG has a public relations problem. The company got a lot of money from the American taxpayer to bail out their bad work in managing risk and they still need more.  But now it comes to light that they are paying out over 150,000,000 in bonus money to the very people who have failed them.  They said they were under contract to pay this boney money and then, in an extraordinarily clumsy pr moment, they said that these bonuses was necessary to retain top talent.  As Rep. Barney Frank became fond of saying yesterday – “They are talking about retention – they should be talking about detention.”  People from across the ideaological spectrum want AIG blood. 

AIG executives have a moral and spiritual problem.  Their situation essentially comes down to greed. These executives had every incentive to play loose as they shared in any profits that came with major risks but shared none of the downside when the risks failed.  What this moment calls for is some serious soul searching among those getting the bonuses and a group decision to turn away from their desire for personal satisfaction and think of the needs of the whole company and wider American community. 

There is a lot at stake.  If the populous outrage continues we will see more resentment towards any company needing a bailout and more willingness to see companies fail.  The people at the top of companies can handle this as they have more money saved, but the real victims will be the people in the middle and at bottom of these companies, not to mention all the people who use their services. 

The spiritual solution is that after searching their souls, these executive willingly, gladly give up the bonuses. The pr gain and increase in a national sense of fairness if these people (who probably only number in the few thousands) were to agree to put nation before self would be great.  It is a risk but one with a slight material and no spiritual downside and a great spiritual upside.  For all of you AIG execs who are reading this blog (probably all of them) I offer you this question from the Christian scriptures: “What does it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” 

Meditate on that and get back to us.

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