On Thursday, I wrote the following letter to the NY Times, reiterating some of the same points I have made here the last few days:
To The Editor:
I have found your coverage of the outrage over the AIG bonuses ("AIG and Wall St. Confront Upsurge of Populist Fury") almost as upsetting as the outrage itself. Why is the media, the government, and the American public spending this much time obssessing over $165 million out of a $170 billion AIG bailout package (not to mention the billions of dollars being doled out to other financial institutions)? In more relatable terms, this would be like if you were very generous and did your friend a favor and lent him $1,000 to keep him afloat for a little while and then spent a week obsessing over a specific $1 - what he did with it, who he gave it to, and whether the person he gave it to deserved it. All these investigations about when Geithner and then Obama found out are a tremendous waste of time and do us all a disservice. We could all scream until we're blue in the face about whether these guys deserved such high payout or anything at all, but doing so would be severely missing the forest for the trees. So how about we all (Treaury, Congress, and the White House, included) stop worrying about this AIG bonus "crisis" and focus all our attention on the actual financial crisis, where it belongs.
While they did not print my letter, they printed 5 or 6 others that expressed a similar sentiment, and more importantly, have run pieces the last two days that have echoed this much more sensible approach to the issue. Yesterday's Business section had a piece by Joe Nocera, who articulated a host of reasons why the response the last week has been an absurd overreaction and one that has totally missed the forest for the trees. Then the front page story today's Week in Review section discussed how the fury over the AIG bonuses is yet another example of American's misplaced focus on symbolic issues in politics rather than substantive ones.
Here's hoping that the Times continues to along this altered approach to this issue and acts as a voice of reason that can trickle down to the rest of the reading public.