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Someone should do a study on what percentage of men in the industries colloquially lumped under "Wall Street" – banking, finance, etc. – are former fratboys. I deal with a lot of fratboys, obviously, and I must say in fairness that they are a highly polarized group. They are a not-quite-even mix of dedicated, conscientious students of above-average intelligence and some of the laziest, meanest, most entitled borderline sociopaths (inability to feel remorse or accept responsibility for one's actions being particularly rampant) you'd ever hope to avoid meeting. The former invariably go to law school or the public sector, as many of them have connected friends who can land them desirable Capitol Hill type employment. The latter, realizing that law school is, you know, hard and stuff, get MBAs or have Dad land them some vague position in "business." It is essentially impossible for me to listen to some lazy kid in a backward baseball cap whining about his grade without silently wondering which mutual fund he is going to end up managing straight into the ground in ten years.
Admittedly I am flying by the pant seat here, lacking empirical evidence to support the anecdotal. But I'll be damned if I can read the transcripts of AIG employees alternately spitting venom at the public and whining like children at the mere prospect of not getting a second round of bonuses on the taxpayer's dime without noting, "These guys sound exactly like fratboys." The poor logic, the self-righteous appeals to fairness, the victimhood, the sense of entitlement, and the naked disgust for people they consider inferior (i.e. everyone) are all there in spades.
"To be honest with you, I really hope it blows up. I think the U.S. taxpayer deserves to lose a trillion dollars over this thing for the way they have behaved."
That is just one quote and may or may not be representative of all the people involved. Regardless, it has to be a bit shocking coming from an employee of a company that would not exist today without taxpayer intervention. Whether or not the people working for the company today were involved in the Credit Default Swap trading that brought the company to the brink of ruin, the fact remains that AIG would already be moldering on the dustbin of history next to Lehman Brothers, Enron, and the Edsel.
Apparently the majority of the aggrieved employees received their second round of bonuses anyway. Irrespective of that, I have a suggestion for any of them who feel mistreated by AIG, the taxpayer, or Washington: look for another job. Surely one of the big banks, investing houses, or insurance companies will be looking for sharp new employees with that magic AIG touch. In fact I just saw this ad posted on Monster.com:
BIG EGOS WANTED. Seeking analysts and traders for growing Financial Products division. Experience with insolvent companies a plus. Inflated sense of self-worth desirable but not required. Must be prepared to take on challenges and work to bankrupt the division with minimal supervision. Provide list of three references who can speak to your staggering ineptitude and child-like ignorance of financial markets. No blacks.
The reality is that "AIG Financial Products division" looks about as good on a resume as "Producer – The Chevy Chase Show", "Giuliani 2008 Campaign Manager" or "One time my roommate blacked out and I raped him." It takes a special kind of person to maintain a sense of entitlement after being generously bailed out and thus saved from unemployment. Fortunately our universities are chock full of the next generation of young minds who fit the bill.