AIG & Me

I was in Bogotá as the AIG story broke. It was discussed particularly vigorously at a luncheon I attended that included a nontrivial share of the nation’s business leaders.

We had nothing of note to say—and perhaps that was noteworthy.

The general reaction was, myself included: “The stupidity of AIG ‘leadership’ boggles the imagination; there can be no sane explanation.” In fact I did say it seemed to border on certifiable insanity—though I stopped well short of countenancing suicide. (Grassley had not made his “proposal” at the time.)

Would it be absurd to say that in the most perverse way this act makes me feel better? I have spent an enormous amount of time and psychic energy in recent months examining my own role in all this—and I don’t see how I can evade responsibility for inadvertently acting as co-conspirator. (Everything I stand for is opposed to “all this”—but I did not say so forcefully enough, and, in fact, dismissed part of what was happening as a more or less capitalist necessity.) But what makes me feel better in an odd way is the realization that these people, some subset of them, are almost literally insane—and that is beyond my responsibility. (I guess.) (Any serious analysis of why what happened indeed happened must necessarily mimic political scientists’ efforts to explain the rise of the likes of Hitler.)

What should “management gurus” do, or what should I do to participate in the cleansing process? Should management gurus resign their posts, as it were, en masse?

I’m really not sure.

(As I finished this brief post I did remember one point of particular interest that arose at the luncheon mentioned above. We agreed that regulation would come and should come—but we also agreed that it probably wouldn’t matter much. All rules can be evaded. The issue really concerns civic virtue and moral responsibility—not the crafting of legislation.)

(Anyone seen any stats on how many, if any, of the recipients refused their bonuses?)

Tom Peters posted this on March 18, 2009, in Markets.
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