AIG bonuses weren't the worst of the lot

To the editor:

I understand the outrage over the AIG bonuses and I'm glad they are getting so much attention from the public, media and our elected leaders.

What I can't understand, though, is the lack of attention to the bonuses paid at Wall Street financial firms in late 2008. The New York Times reported them to be $18.4 billion, or roughly 100 times the AIG bonuses. This mega-payout came despite these firms losing $35 billion in 2008 and receiving billions of our tax dollars in bailout money.

Merrill Lynch paid $2.5 billion in bonuses despite losing $15.4 billion in the fourth quarter alone! This was just before being taken over by Bank of America, a big bailout beneficiary, to avoid going bankrupt.

The greed and arrogance is mind-bending. How can these people so not get it? Why are the public, the media and our elected officials not up in arms even more so over this than AIG's relatively paltry $165 million in bonuses? Was everyone so distracted by the inauguration in January when this news was coming out?

Any actions Congress takes regarding the AIG bonuses should also apply to the Wall Street 2008 bonuses and criminal charges for fraud should be pursued as vigorously as possible. Unless there are serious repercussions for these actions there's no reason that they won't be repeated.

Dave Newton


Pension plan

To the editor:

I know the pension benefits of public sector workers are one of the many third-rails of politics, but let's get honest. We can't afford them any longer. Keep the pensions for those police officers and firefighters who put their lives on the line (with their benefits calculated on base pay, not on any overtime). Eliminate the pensions for the rest of our governmental class and save millions, forever.

Larger private businesses almost entirely eliminated defined benefit pensions within the past five to 10 years, favoring 401(k) contributions. I have gone through two such eliminations in the private sector. I didn't like it, but what was the recourse beyond seeking employment elsewhere?

Why would anyone consider accepting a lower paying government job without a pension? Let's ask each unemployed worker in Nevada if they would take a government job without a pension in this economy. We would have to take names and numbers to assure an orderly long-line of job applicants.

Charles Blenkhorn