Thursday, October 9, 2008

In Defense of AIG

Both Congress and the White House have been giving AIG a lot of flak about having an "executive retreat" after receiving an $85 bridge loan from the federal government. Commentators like Bill O'Reilly have left people with the impression that AIG took the money and threw a party for itself. Yesterday, AIG CEO Edward Liddy wrote Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to clarify incorrect public perception.

Before I go any further I will remind people that I am an employee of an AIG subsidiary. So people are free to accept, reject or ignore what I have to say from here on out.

With that in mind, people ought to realize that companies (not just AIG) plan these events for their employees and outside contractors fairly regularly. But it is not the sort of thing one can organize in a week. The logistics involved take months (i.e. inviting and confirmation of guests, booking the hotel, coordination of catering and entertainment, etc.)

Now could make the case that it might have been prudent to cancel this event to avoid the appearance of impropriety. But why punish independent insurance agents who have done nothing other than do business with AIG? Taken to its logical extreme AIG would then have to cancel its Christmas parties which are attended by everyone from executives to file clerks (yep, that's me.)

There's no question Wall Street bears enormous responsibility for the economic downturn in which we now find ourselves. But AIG ought not be accused of improper use of federal money without those pointing fingers providing specific evidence to support such an assertion. To do otherwise is grossly unfair and unhelpful to the situation at hand.

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