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Greedy plutocrat likens public anger over Wall Street bonuses to lynchings in the Old South

0602B_AIG

For a little background on the matter at issue here, let’s look back on THIS NEWS STORY from 2009:

The American International Group, which has received more than $170 billion in taxpayer bailout money from the Treasury and Federal Reserve, plans to pay about $165 million in bonuses by Sunday to executives in the same business unit that brought the company to the brink of collapse last year.

Word of the bonuses last week stirred such deep consternation inside the Obama administration that Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner told the firm they were unacceptable and demanded they be renegotiated, a senior administration official said. But the bonuses will go forward because lawyers said the firm was contractually obligated to pay them.

Another important factor to remember today is that not a single Wall Street CEO has been sent to jail for bringing about the near-collapse of the global financial system.

OK, that’s background enough. Now, let’s check out THIS NEWS ITEM, which you may not have noticed this morning:

AIG’s CEO Robert Benmosche [above] — who came in to rescue the company after the 2008 financial crisis — told the Wall Street Journal that the outrage over the bonuses promised to AIG’s members was just as bad as when white supremacists in the American South used to lynch African Americans:

The uproar over bonuses “was intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out there with their pitchforks and their hangman nooses, and all that — sort of like what we did in the Deep South [decades ago]. And I think it was just as bad and just as wrong.”

Yes, enduring some public criticism for receiving multimillion-dollar bonuses after helping crash the global economy is a lot like being hanged from a tree by your neck until you die.

These kinds of sentiments don’t emerge in a vacuum. Benmosche is expressing a view that was pretty common back in 2010 and 2011, when it was kind of a thing for members of the besieged 1 percent to compare public anger over their compensation to the way Nazi Germany treated the weak.

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