Despite taking billions of bailout money from the government, AIG gave some of its executives millions of dollars worth of bonuses. These actions during hard times have caused a stir among everyday Americans as well as Congress. Outraged over what many see as greed, Americans have not hesitated to voice their opinions on whether the money needs to be returned or not.
ESSENCE.com hit the streets to find out if you would return the money or keep it for yourself and your family.
As told to: Maya Rhodan and Jasmine Bolton
City: New York, New York
“We’re in a recession and there are more people in the government and the community that need this money a lot more than they do. If the money isn’t needed, there is no need to accept it. I would give the money back.”
“I would not give the money back. The company has a contractual obligation to pay me what I’m guaranteed. I understand the circumstances and the emotional reaction behind what’s going on, but, on the other hand, if I was a school teacher yet the school system was doing poorly, should I not get paid? Or if I were a janitor at a hospital that wasn’t performing well, should I not be compensated for doing my job correctly?”
City: New York City
“I would give the money back given the status of the industry and the response of the community; it’s the right thing to do. However, I think it depends on your personal situation. Some of these people don’t work for AIG anymore and have gotten laid off, but others are to blame for the mess. So, it really depends on the personal situation.”
City: Harlem, New york
“In this economic climate, I would give the money back. I wouldn’t accept it in the first place; it’s not ethical. If they want to restore faith in the company in the long run, they should give the money back to show that they have integrity and honesty, because right now they look like a bunch of greedy crooks."
City: New York City
“It’s a recession; I’m not giving anything back. I would need it for my family; we need to eat too.”
City: Millburn, New Jersey
“I would feel awful if I received that money. People are hungry and broke; it’s a recession; we are going through tough times. I don’t think it’s right.”
City: New York City
“Who gives money back? However, if it wasn’t well-deserved, I would consider it. In the situation with AIG (because the money comes from a government bailout), I would probably give it back, as corny as that is.”
City: Yonkers, New York
“I would give it back to lead by example. Our country is in debt and giving the money back would be a step toward fixing that; it has to start somewhere.”
City: Washington, D.C.
“I wouldn’t give the money back. Most of their compensation is from bonuses, and if I assumed a position where I knew most of my money was coming from bonuses, I wouldn’t return any money. But if I had to it, it would be very difficult."
City: Harlem, New York
“I would absolutely give the money back. Bonuses are merit-based. If you received the money under false pretenses and you didn’t earn a bonus, where is the honesty in that? You have to have honor in what you do."
City: New Jersey
“I would definitely give the money back; I’m in the business field and I understand that you get paid for your performance, and if you don’t perform, you shouldn’t get paid.”
City: Hinesville, Georgia
“I would give the money back. If you messed up, you don’t deserve it and AIG messed up. It would be different if they had done their jobs and did them well, but when you don’t perform you don’t deserve a reward.”
City: Bronx, New York
“When you’re given money like that, I don’t know too many people that would give it back. I would let them know that I need it and it would definitely be enough to help me.”
City: Raleigh, North Carolina
“Giving the money back is just the right thing to do given the financial situation the country is in. As taxpayers, we have doled out all this money for bailout and people that have substantial salaries receiving more money just doesn’t seem right. It would be tough, but given the financial status of an executive, they should be fine without the added bonus.”