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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

One opinion is not enough (in my opinion)

It’s amazing how little we know when we think we know so much? Confused? Let me try that again. We’re dumb, not smart. Weak, not strong. Oh yeah, we know things, sure. The sky is blue and I have five fingers. You’ve got six? No way.

I read a fair amount of news and I hope you read me loud and clear: One opinion is not the be all and end all. It’s not the Great Bambino. It’s not the Big Kahuna.

The New York Times published a letter of resignation on March 25 from Jake DeSantis, a former A.I.G employee who wrote his letter to Edward M. Liddy, the chief executive of A.I.G..

DeSantis was one of the recipients of the $165 million bonus money, which has caused an uproar throughout the United States. Taxpayers were furious that these bonuses were being paid with their dollars. What Mr. DeSantis explained was quite a different story.
He never dealt with or organized a credit-default swap for A.I.G..

In fact, a large majority of the employees within his arm of the company, A.I.G. Financial Products, was not responsible for these bad business transactions. DeSantis said, “Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage.”

DeSantis went on to say, “I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down.”

DeSantis was banking on his bonus being paid to him; that was his salary. When the numbers came out, he said he was allotted $742,006.40. Of this money, he is not sure how much he will keep because a House bill is in the works that will tax those A.I.G. retention payments by 90 percent.

DeSantis has decided that whatever is leftover will be given to Americans that need the money. He wrote, “I have decided to donate 100 percent of the effective after-tax proceeds of my retention payment directly to organizations that are helping people who are suffering from the global downturn … I simply believe that I at least deserve to dictate how my earnings are spent, and do not want to see them disappear back into the obscurity of A.I.G’s or the federal government’s budget.”

Here is a man who worked for a paycheck, undoubtedly, and was to be paid with a bonus. This same man, who was not involved directly with credit default swaps – the damning tools of the company and a portion of our financial system – is being pressured to give his money back by the American people and Congress.

Guilty by association. Now, how’s that for fairness? His choice to donate his money was more than admirable. The typical Wall street vampire that has been depicted in the media wouldn’t even have considered the possibility of acting charitably. Jake DeSantis is a man that stands outside of the stereotype and asks us to look beyond our finger before we point it.

Because one opinion is not the be all and end all. It’s not the Great Bambino or the Big Kahuna. It’s just one opinion.


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