I subscribe to the International Herald Tribune, which means that when I open up the paper every morning, I’m usually reading yesterday’s New York Times (geared for Europe).
So it was only today that I happened upon the following op-ed, a resignation letter written by a former member of the AIG Financial Products team – Jake DeSantis – to his now (ex) boss, Edward M. Liddy.
In the letter, Mr. De Santis basically says neither he nor almost anyone in his group had anything to do with the whole AIG debacle. He therefore resents being blamed for it and (by implication) having a hard-earned bonus withdrawn for someone else’s mistakes. He also faults Mr. Liddy for not standing by other honest workers at AIG like him and for falling prey to political pressures rather than privileging institutional loyalty.
I know there’s been a lot of fall out from this letter on the internet (the world socialist website decries it as one more piece of evidence that the New York Times is in cahoots with the so-called “financial aristocracy”). But I have to say that my first reaction when I read this article was “My! How grown up!”
The author doesn’t sound particularly bitter. He does say he feels betrayed, but he is careful to tell the reader exactly why he feels betrayed and what happened behind close doors to make him disillusioned with the company’s leadership. And while acknowledging that he’s made a heckuva lot of money while working for AIG, he commits to giving all of this year’s paycheck to charity.
I don’t mean to hold this man up as a noble knight in shining armor. Nor do I think that really rich people who give money to charity ought to be given a gold star just for that reason. But in an era where many figures in the public and private sectors alike – Bernard Madoff, Rod Blagojevich – are in full-on melt down mode, it was nice to hear from someone in the midst of this mess who sounded, for lack of a better word, mature.