If you think this economy is a mess now, imagine what it would look like if the business community started to worry that the government would start abrogating contracts left and right.It's in re the AIG bonuses. Hey, a deal's a deal. If Uncle Sam wants AIG to ask the employees who'll be receiving those bonuses to forgo their bonuses, that's one thing; contracts can generally be renegotiated if all the parties agree. But if the Feds just jerk the rug out from under entirely legal, ordinary agreements, where does it stop? What's next?
One part of "next" would be, Wall Street's already low confidence in the Administration would flicker out. The only meaningful skill remaining would be the ability to influence the government to benefit your employer or yourself, a state of affairs many citizens think is already too frequent.
Does it sting, handing over a tiny percentage (do your own math -- $165*10^6/$170*10^12, multiply by 100, keeps comin' up .0001% for me)* of the bailout to some of the same talent that already steered AIG onto the rocks? Sure it does. But it stings a million times more -- literally! -- to be bailing them out at all. We're stuck with that.
EDIT: 165*10^6/$170*10^9, so 0.1%. Arrgh! See comments.
The big bonuses are big, set against my pay or probably yours. Compared to the total bailout, it's like leaving a penny tip for bad service, so the waitperson will know you didn't just forget.
* So I rounded.