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From the farm

Retention bonuses: Where’s mine?

March 20, 2009
By Kerry Hoffman

For once I actually think Steve may be correct, but he agreed with me before I shared my opinion.

"They're all a bunch of crooks!" he said.

"If I could ..."

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(Side note: Steve just warned me that he was going to purchase a used grain drill. According to him, it's a huge step up from the one we currently use. I won't have to pull a rope to open and close the holes where the seeds to come out. The one we use is from like the 1820s. OK. Just kidding; 1940s or so. "It's freaking old," Steve said. I hope he purchases this used one. Steve says maybe I, that would be me, wouldn't miss areas of the field while planting, because I "pulled the said rope incorrectly.")

"... slap them across the back of the head, I would," I added.

The discussions were aimed at American International Group (AIG).

OK, OK. So those that took the bonuses agreed to a $1 salary, with the stipulation that the bonuses would be paid to them as a "retention bonus."

I don't care. I have to work through a wage freeze at my place of employment, without any sort of "retention-bonus promise."

Doesn't AIG realize that it's taxpayers' money they are using to pay those ungodly bonus amounts?

Of course they do. What they don't realize is that it's a different world out here in the normal world.

I work hard. You work hard. I pay my taxes. You pay your taxes.

My taxes should not go to pay million dollar bonuses to greedy employees. And, get this, some of those employees don't even work at AIG anymore. According to what I read in the Wall Street Journal, some of those employees may actually work overseas!

Now that should help the U.S. economy.

My taxes should not be used to pay "$33.6 million for 52 people who have left the failed insurance conglomerate."

Must be their idea of retention and my idea of retention is different.

Let's not forget about the elected officials, who wrote the laws regarding the use of bail-out funds to pay bonuses.

Well, after a little bit of research, they did include it in the legislation. What they also included was an "amendment that cracked down on bonuses at companies getting bailout money, but that exempted bonuses protected by contracts, like A.I.G.'s."

I think my wages should be under contracts. That way I would be guaranteed a raise too.

Again, elected officials didn't recognize how the voting majority of our nation would react to such actions.

It's no different than when the auto industry executives took their private jets to Washington DC to ask for government bailout monies.

Must be the AIG executives were not paying attention that day, when the public was angry because the executives didn't show up in Chevy Cobalts.

Sure the government wants to charge AIG a reasonably high tax on the loaned money. Does that mean those taxes will then go to where they are supposed to go - the people who lost money because of AIG's King-of-the-Jungle attitude?

Most of the "retained" employees have started giving the exorbitant amounts of money back. But that only happened after the public outcry. I wonder if they would have returned it had their actions gone unnoticed.

The damage is done. Hopefully, executives of other distressed conglomerates are taking note and will do away overloaded retention bonuses.

For questions, or comments, e-mail me at



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