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Bottom feeders - The Paranoid Android
...musings of a mechanically depressed robot...
Bottom feeders
What happened to "News?"

There was a time when news was unidirectional. Someone would tell it, or perhaps print it and the masses would listen or read.

Today the masses get to talk back... and most of what they say is bollocks. For every informed, thoughtful response there are 100 or more spouting everything from the ridiculous to the blatantly untrue.

A case in point: Jake DeSantis, an executive vice president of the American International Group's (AIG) financial products unit, sent a letter of resignation to the chief exec. He was brought in to clean up the whole credit default swap mess on a salary of $1 (yup - that's one dollar) with the promise of a truck load of cash if he stayed until the end. The truck load amounts to over 700 thousand dollars after tax. His contract is now up and the US government is trying to get some (90%) of that truck load of money back. He is not happy about working for 12 months for a dollar, not happy that the chief exec of his company has desided to side with the government and so he is quitting.

The New York Times allows it's readers to add comments to the stories, and it "highlight[s] the most interesting and thoughtful comments that represent a range of views."

Most of the comments appear to accuse Mr DeSantis of whining. There are also many accusations of "spending my money." There's a few "If the government hadn't bailed you out you would have got nothing: therefore you deserve nothing." There are suggestions that Mr DeSantis is to blame for the failure of AIG, and a load of people who were either made redundant or who knows someone who was made redundant - and they didn't get millions of dollars of government money.

As someone who doesn't earn a small fortune I can understand the amazement of some of these contracts; who needs a million dollars year? But if you started work on the promise of a million dollars in a years time - and when it came to pay day was told you are likely to get 10% of it wouldn't you be a bit pissed off? I'm not talking about a verbal promise here... these are legal contracts. Forget for a moment the numbers, the principle is that someone did the work required but is not getting paid the amount that was agreed.

sigil wrote an interesting article about this just the other day. I'm not well versed with American constitutional law but what he says about retroactively grabbing the retainers back from the AIG execs seems to make sense to me. I don't necessarily agree with every point he made in that post... I think it falls foul of the same trouble that allowing Joe Public to comment on the news. What I mean to say is - it's a damn sight more complicated than that. (No offence Sigil... I believe you have every right to your opinion just as I have every right to disagree with it!)

The public is not informed. We get sound bites of news based on selling something (either ad space on the radio, website, tv or the spin of the news is to sell us into behaving in a certain way). There is no way we, the uninformed masses, can add value to a news article.

The thing that really winds me up (and prompted this post) is the ones complaining are just as selfish as they accuse these execs of being. You could sum up 80% with the expression "give it to me instead." I won't pretend to know enough to say there is justification paying someone that much because that would make me just as bad as these know-nothing pundits of "common knowledge."

So I think we should leave the news to the professionals*, and leave the comments to the water coolers or the blogs!

*Of course there's always the chance that the "professionals" are also a bunch of know-nothing toss-pots but you can always avoid Fox News by changing channel! (Link stolen from sacramentalist)

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3 comments or Leave a comment
sigil From: sigil Date: March 26th, 2009 04:30 am (UTC) (Link)
No offence taken, you can opine as you feel fit. It nice to know at least someone actually reads those things. (;

Oh, and having read Jake DeSantis letter - it sounds like that "bonus" was actually a "retention bonus" - i.e. an amount of money promised him if he stayed with AIG for a certain amount of time. A lot of companies going through mergers, sales or bankruptices offer retention bonuses to key employees to stay for a set period of time rather than seek employment elsewhere. If that was the case, that he was offered $1 in salary and a 1.5 million dollar retention bonus if he stayed on at AIG rather than go to the commodities department of another brokerage house (and if he *is* a successful commodotiies trader even in these markets, he likely could - those people are in hot demand even today), I can understand his being seriously upset if, at the end of the year after being assured on three separate occasions he would be paid, he found out he will be making one tenth what he was promised.

Edited at 2009-03-26 04:35 am (UTC)
paranoidandroid From: paranoidandroid Date: March 26th, 2009 11:06 am (UTC) (Link)
I always read... and I like your rants.
(Deleted comment)
paranoidandroid From: paranoidandroid Date: March 26th, 2009 11:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Chantelle from Billericay oh that made me chuckle.

I agree that it's not necessarily the public's fault; we live in a dumbed down society.

The news is presented for the lowest denominator across all the media. Gone are the days when you could rely on the heavy weights (like the BBC or the broadsheets.) I wonder if the standard of journalist has dropped, or if there are good journalists who have to churn out bubble-gum news to please their masters.
3 comments or Leave a comment