Go on….give your bonus back…


“>Quite a few of you have weighed in on the ethics of corporate bonuses and whether you’d give yours back to help keep your company afloat.

William writes: “I work for General Motors and hourly workers such as myself have just had approximately a $1.00 reduction in pay per hour.
We have lost some benefits but if it helps, so be it. Most of us are interested in seeing the company survive.”

But what about the financiers: do they need an incentive to take huge risks?

On Newshour this Saturday Owen Bennett-Jones will ask an investment banker and an expert in business ethics, what’s wrong with The Bonus Culture. One group wants to name and shame the high earners. But is that fair? Keep those comments coming!

39 Responses to “Go on….give your bonus back…”

  1. March 19, 2009 at 18:16

    If I were to work with AIG, which has been bailed out by the government with tax payers money, I would surely pay back my bonus in full (100%). The reason is, other tax payers like me did sacrifice as far as forgoing portion of their monthly salary in order to permit their colleagues to stay on job.
    With this difficult situation, I would give up my bonus in order to keep the company/bank running so that my job could also be saved.

  2. 2 Sean
    March 19, 2009 at 18:56

    I am a local business man in our area and i think if these bankers where told some time ago that there job was to consist a bonus as part of there package at the end of the year then they should get it

  3. 3 Syed Hasan Turab
    March 19, 2009 at 18:57

    The behaviour of AIG officers is creating problems for US Govt & US Corporates are loosing public trust. Vey poor show in financial histry.

  4. March 19, 2009 at 19:02

    I would give my bonus back. It has to work both ways with the politicians returning whatever money they have received from lobbies.

  5. March 19, 2009 at 19:15

    if it’s me i would return it,so i continue with my job to makke the company progress.

  6. 6 escee
    March 19, 2009 at 19:19

    Insurance agents don^t get a salary in my country . They bring in the money and are paid commissions and bonuses .they are not the one who cause the company downfall. The actuaries, underwriters , the fund managers and the policies maker are the ones who mishandle the company. If the money is paid to agents then they should keep it.

  7. 7 Saut
    March 19, 2009 at 21:34

    Why should I give it back? As far as I am concern I deserved it. In AIG’s case, since the US Govt did not conduct sufficient due diligence and did not object in the initial stages, the bonus earners should keep the money. After all, this is Wall Street’s credo in action : ‘game’ the system and take out the money.
    Learning point: Why do US people keep on trusting the same ‘sharks’ that fed on them and now are fed by them?

  8. 8 Dennis Junior
    March 19, 2009 at 22:01

    i think that these staffers at these banks, should be immediately return to the taxpayers immediately…..

    ~Dennis Junior~

  9. 9 ecotopian
    March 20, 2009 at 04:52

    It’s not unusually for a company to give out bonuses for a job well done during a time when the company has turned a profit. I can understand that and think it’s not a bad idea, under those circumstances. I don’t think we would be asking those people to return the money

    AIG is different. It was giving out bonuses to people who had helped drive the company into the ground and in eleven cases, gave money to people who no longer worked there. The company had more than $40 billion dollars in losses last year and is receiving close to $175 billion in US federal aid. The outrage that this has generated is in response to the fact they are getting money for failure. The bonuses were the tipping point for a lot people here in the States.

    I just found out that AIG is suing the US government for the return of $306 million in tax payments http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/20/business/20aig.html The arrogance of this firm never ceases to amaze me.

  10. 10 k.b.enchill
    March 20, 2009 at 09:12

    If the Treasury hadnt bailed them out, AIG would have long been liquidated let alone talk about bonuses.

    Now monies have been fetched into AIG to revive the economy in this crticical times – a sense of good will to the economy!!.

    AIG paying bonuses to themselves its just immoral (greedness) and contradicts the basic principle of good will to all americans.

    Bonuses must be paid back!

  11. March 20, 2009 at 10:32

    I am still trying to sort out truth form smoke on this one. But from what I understand, they are being called “bonuses” but what they are “retention”. Many companies pay lawyers “retentions” to do work for them all year. The lawyers are not paid on an individual basis, but a set price for the year. If you have ever been involved with litigation on a complex case, you know the idea of getting rid of your lawyer and binging another one in cold is not appealing. It might actually cost you the case and many dollars more. AIG’s position is that theses were “retention bonuses” in which they were bound to in contract. Not only could these employees sue them if they didn’t pay them, but the arbitration in which these employees were involved in were time sensitive and crucial. “Changing horse in the middle of the race” didn’t make sense.

    Think about having open heart surgery. Say the procedure called for you to be awake. The doctor has you splayed open, he is working away. Then in the middle of it you say to him, “I think you are charging me too much. I would like to find another doctor.” Other doctors do know how to perform this operation, but there is only one for the jab at that moment. This is how crucial AIG says these employees are to their operation.

    If they are telling the truth, then their hands were tied. I just wonder why the government review didn’t catch this when determining to give AIG bailout money. What if the poor guy that received the $2 million in bonus needed the money for his $25 million house mortgage?

  12. 12 Dennis
    March 20, 2009 at 11:02

    AIG, American Income Greed?

    There shouldn’t be any minimum income level before returning the money, as there wasn’t a limit on RECEIVING.

    I’d return the money,easily.
    However, I don’t wear a ‘suit and tie” to work.
    I’m one of the small “expendable ones” that has morals.
    “Suits and Ties” are greedy!
    Like Daffy Duck says, “mine, mine, aaallllll mine, gimme, gimme”.
    I’m glad I have morals, rather than greed.
    The suits and ties” are thinking of only themsrelves, no surprize.
    Live well.
    After they expire, they can’t spend it anyway.
    I still have morals that will last longer than the “suit and tie” dollars.

  13. 13 William From Middleville
    March 20, 2009 at 14:21

    I work for General Motors and hourly workers such as myself have just had approximately a $1.00 reduction in pay per hour. This was because the cost of living went down in the last quarter. This was in our contract and I have not heard much in the way of complaints. It was in our contract and hopefully it will help the company.

    Our contract has been pretty much shredded and is being changed at the demand of the government. We have lost some benifits but if it hekps , so be it. If our contract can be changed why is it so hard to change the contracts at AIG ? Oh most of us are interested in seeing the company survive. That appears to be different than AIG.

  14. 14 ecotopian
    March 20, 2009 at 14:39

    Dwight From Cleveland,

    They did know http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/20/business/20bonus.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

    It shouldn’t matter if they were contractual or not. They should have known how bad this would look in the current financial situation. There is a notion of having a sense of decency. This seemed to show to the American people that this company has a serious lack of decency and an air of entitlement.

  15. March 20, 2009 at 14:50

    Capitalism is all about greed!

  16. 16 Tom D Ford
    March 20, 2009 at 16:11

    “But what about the financiers: do they need an incentive to take huge risks?”

    They did not take any risks, they shifted the risks onto the public. That is what they are paid to do.

    We ought to define “Financial Crimes Against Humanity” and put those financiers in jail for one year for each and every person in the world who has lost their jobs, plus one year in jail for very person in the world who has become homeless because of the Derivative based sub-prime loans pushed onto the public, plus one year in jail for every person in the world who has been reduced to poverty because of Derivative based financial scams, plus two years in jail for ever person in the world who has given up hope and committed suicide because of their loses due to Derivatives.

    Add up all of those years and divide them among those financiers and give them their just rewards. Let them rot in jail and not some federal tennis camp, put them in a SuperMax Prison in solitary.

    And there ought to be a special place in hell on earth for the Conservative Republicans who pushed through the 1999 law that prevented any Regulation and Oversight of the Derivative Financial Schemes and Scams. They are at root fault.

  17. 17 chris
    March 20, 2009 at 17:36

    its hard enough to trust politicians at the best of times, as a non-believer if they start espousing their religious beliefs I’d trust them even less

  18. March 20, 2009 at 19:39

    In time of economic crisis what matters is to have both ends meet. It doesn’t make to have a personal luxury in an ocean of misery. a small financial sacrifice can make a huge difference especially when it keeps enterprises and companies on the brink of bankruptcy afloat. Every dollar ceded for the welfare of the economy will be returned by more dollars when there is full economic recovery.

  19. 19 Jim Newman
    March 20, 2009 at 20:07

    Hello again
    I’m certainely not giving my bonus back. So there!!!!!!!

  20. 20 Maccus Germanis
    March 20, 2009 at 20:50

    If the intention was for AIG to break its contracts, such as these bonuses, then they should have been allowed to go into bankruptcy.

  21. March 21, 2009 at 01:12

    William from Middleville,

    The difference between you and the executives from AIG is that you could be easily replaced, or rather not replaced. You walk off the line, and there are 100 other people willing and able to take your job. AIG claims, and in many cases they are probably accurate, that these people can’t be replaced with out costing them more money then they are being compensated. These executives have got them by the short and curlies. AIG’s position is that if you weren’t going to let them make these contracts, then why did you bother to give them money. These were part of their cost of doing business.


    I guess what I meant to say is that I can’t believe that 1) our leaders didn’t understand the impact of these bonuses and call them out to the public at the inception. And 2) that they didn’t expect the media to react as they have to single people making millions of dollars off these bailouts. AS far as what people should and shouldn’t do, well there are a million crimes a day being committed by people who shouldn’t be doing them. I doubt that Madolf should have been doing what he was doing. But if people always did what was fair, just, and right, then there would be no need to make laws. In this case they may not have been moral, but what they did was legal.

  22. March 21, 2009 at 20:40

    Performance based bonus’ should be based on performance as the title implies.

    The Constitution prohibits Bills of Attainder. In other words you cannot pass an ex post facto law.

    Politicians who have received money from the financial industry for helping to deregulate that industry have no right to point fingers at this point.

    Make rules that are realistic and live with them.

  23. March 22, 2009 at 00:42

    If the people who gave the bonus and received the bonus did not break any law (at that time) then the bonus should not be taken back.

    The rule of law applies for all. It does not matter whether or not you like what is happening.

    If the bonus is taken back, then you should also make Al Gore the president of USA retroactively for the period of 2000 to 2008 because he won the majority popular vote.

  24. 24 Dihan
    March 22, 2009 at 04:11

    NO. They do not need incentive as they don’t take huge risks. They never takes huge risks. What they do is , shift the risk on the back of the people.
    How ever they should payback the money. They have no sense about the people. That is why they are working like this.

  25. March 22, 2009 at 07:46

    I think dealing(selling and buying) credit default swaps was a criminal conspiracy. I think everyone involved should go to prison, and have their property seized.

  26. 26 derek
    March 22, 2009 at 08:56

    it isnt surprising that big company directors are taking bonusses paid for by tax payers – mps have been doing that for years. A good example is employment minister McNulty. It may be legal but is not morally right. Therefore it has to be assumed that these people are immoral.

  27. 27 Ike Nwauzoigwe Ike
    March 22, 2009 at 11:45

    The bonus culture? Well, like the CEOs like to compare themselves with the pay of celebrities. But these are individual contributions to making a difference and earning a living. CEOs are supposed to members of a team, but the question is: would the particular team work better if a member is absent? The answer is yes.

    Under Nigerian law, the bailout will be treated as a capital as would a sum realised from shares issued at a premium. The shares could be applied by the company in paying up unissued shares of the company to be issued to members of the company as fully paid bonus shares, in writing off preliminary expenses of the company; or the expenses of, or the commission paid or discount allowed on, any issue of shares of the company; or in providing for the premium payable on redemption of any redeemable share of the company.

    The important thing is that the sum is ploughed back by paying bonuses and never paid out as dividend. If such is the case with the AIG, it is only moral suasion that can make them return them.

  28. 28 Paul
    March 22, 2009 at 14:57

    Britain didn’t regulate AIGFP, WHY?

  29. 29 GREG
    March 22, 2009 at 19:18

    EMPEACH Him and Obama this is NOT WHAT America was looking for in CHANGE.

  30. 30 Iyasele Isioma
    March 22, 2009 at 23:30

    Imagine if Mr Geithner was George Bush’s treasury secretary; the former president would have been flayed without mercy. But it seems Americans can now forgive any misstep by the people Obama said would save the economy. I mean the guy avoided paying taxes and you think he’ll really go out of his way to ensure that bailed out CEO’s do the right thing?

  31. 31 Ewewale
    March 23, 2009 at 10:18

    People lost homes, jobs, etc.
    It would be a shame if I held onto bonuses.

  32. 32 Jessica in NYC
    March 23, 2009 at 15:50


    Over the weekend, NYC residents took a bus to the suburbs where all the executives at AIG live and protested in their front yards. They had signs and bull horns and, of course, the media was there to capture the embarrassment it caused to these executives and their family.

  33. March 25, 2009 at 05:33

    All of the executives in my company are hired guns, none are original founders. Therefore they are no position to help themselves to the companys deep coffers that have accumulated over the last century as a public utility. But the do precisely that. The last S.O.B. pissed away several billions on offshore investments that all remarkably lost money, then had his hand picked board of cronies gift him with a $65,000,000 “retirement” package on top of his $17,000,000 yearly take-home. So I am in agreement with those who believe that a hired-on CEO or Corporate Exec is absolutely not worth 1000 times the base pay of the companies median worker. This game is crooked, a Ponzi scheme to reward those unprincipled enough to play. I hope Obama doesn’t close Guantanimo too soon…

  34. 34 Christy - Florida
    March 25, 2009 at 18:49

    Why do rich people get blamed for wanting to be rich, and not really caring how they get there? The United States is a capitalist society and I for one am thankful for this.

    I cannot say I would or I would not give back the money, since I have never come close to making the boat loads these people do. So for anyone to say give by millions, is really easier said than done.

    I say, if you had a hand in making AIG fail, then heck no, no bonus for you. But if you did not help in the down fall, then by all means more power to you and don’t spend it all in one place.

  35. March 25, 2009 at 19:48

    For me it is interesting that you seem to think all auto workers are on a”line”. The day of being able to walk in off the street and go to work on the “line”are gone and have been for over twenty years.

    You are not quite correct about the hundred people that would apply for my job. If anything I believe it would be higher. The question is would they be qualified. I’ll give a short list of some of what would be needed.

    1) Some knowledge of I.C.C. regulations and trucking laws of four states
    2) Be able to properly load, secure and protect dies,fixtures,sheet steel and related items.
    3) Be able to operate small mills, drill presses, grinders, lathes and other specialised small machines.
    4) Program and operate a wire E.D.M.(Electrical Discharge Machining) machine.
    5) Operate a Transfer press which is larger that many two story houses. I’ll probably need a little refresher.
    6) Be able to use trig.
    7) Have knowledge of metalurgy, tool steels
    and heat treating.
    8) Have knowledge of tifferent types of welding and their uses.
    9) Be familiar with 2&3D and 5 axis machining
    10) Also be familiar with the data handling systems used to create machine programs.
    11) Be able to build, tryout, trouble shoot and repair large sheet metal dies.

    That is a partial list of therequirements.
    I work a people that fit those requirements and more. I have a feeling some of them would be able to understand A.I.G. before the A.I.G. people could pick up our work.

    We also have the satisfaction of being able to see what we have accomplished at the end of the day.

    We have already given up our bonuses.

    My apology for the length and lateness of this.

    Also hope it gets posted properly.

  36. 36 derek
    April 11, 2009 at 11:26

    typical bankers keep the profits then want everyone else to take the loss.
    accepting bonuses under false pretences is not only immoral it is fraudulent.
    i would give my bonus back.
    the guys who accept the right of bonuses should take the responsibility that comes with it and be prepared to refund all and any money to shareholders/governent.

  37. 37 Darwin
    July 31, 2009 at 13:33

    Show me the money 🙂

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