Rich Galen

AIG - American International Group, Inc. is the single most toxic asset in America. Over the past few months you and I have paid $173 BILLION of our tax dollars to bail these bozos out of the financial sewer they themselves designed, dug, filled, and jumped into.

The big news over the weekend was that AIG - recipient of $173 BILLION of our tax dollars - has paid out - ta da - bonuses of over $280 million to its excellent staff.

That includes $165 million in what is only a down payment on about one billion dollars in "retention bonuses" which were due yesterday. That, according to the UK Guardian, is "in addition, to AIG providing $121m to 6,400 employees across the rest of its sprawling global empire."

Nearly half of those retention bonuses are for the staff of the Financial Products Division which is almost single-handedly responsible for the ills which have befallen AIG and, by extension, you and me.

The Financial Products Division is located in … London. Mayfair, London.

According to the Guardian AIG paid "bonuses of $450m (£322m) to staff at the London-run financial products division that crippled the company with vast losses on toxic derivatives."

That would be $450 million of your money. And mine.

But wait! There's more.

Of the $173 Billion of our tax dollars which have been used to bail out AIG "more than $90bn [has been paid out] to a list of clients and counterparties dominated by European banks," wrote the Guardian. "Top names are Société Générale and Deutsche Bank, both of which got more than $11bn. Barclays has received $8.5bn, HSBC has had $3.5bn and Royal Bank of Scotland has been paid $700m."

Let's recap: $173 BILLION of our tax dollars have been used to bail out AIG. AIG has, in turn, used our tax dollars to pay out over a quarter of a billion dollars in bonuses half of which went to a bunch of Brits who got AIG into this mess in the first place. In addition, about a quarter of the $173 BILLION of our tax dollars which has been sent to AIG is being used to pay off what AIG owes to French, German, British and Scottish banks.

May I ask a question? If AIG made bad decisions and we have to use $173 BILLION of our tax dollars to pay for those bad decisions, why can't the Germans pay for Deutsche Bank's bad decision to deal with AIG? Why can't the French pay for Société Générale's bad decision?

Why is it that, once again, the American taxpayer is paying for the rest of the world's bad decisions.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at