Yes, I'm as infuriated by the AIG bonuses as everyone else. But I know in truth, this is a meaningless political football.
The real shame is that after the Great Depression, which was caused in no small part by deregulation and irresponsible financial conglomerates, the government put measures in place to make sure institutes that were "too big to fail" would never plague the country again. There are two ugly options when banks get too massive and blow up: you either "let 'em fail!" or you give them a shitload of money so they don't.
Over decades, the banking industry (read: old fat rich white guys) effectively lobbied Glass-Steagall and other regulatory measures into oblivion. Now I'm no economist and maybe parts of those rules and legislation were draconian and counterproductive. But make no mistake, we are in this mess because the measures that were designed to keep us out of it were dismantled over decades by greed. The Bush administration sealed the deal by putting the term "free market" on crack.
The first time around, they just went ahead and "let 'em fail!" which put us into the Great Depression. "Let 'em fail" turned out to be a real Hindenburg of ideas, people. So, while it's emotionally satisfying to shake our fists and cry "outrage!" and demonize AIG et al., fact is we own that mother.
You, me, all of us.
Hence, as part owner of AIG, I say this: Those contracts were in place before I was. I'm obligated to pay these people whether I like it or not. There's nothing I hate more than someone who squelches on a deal and, (I hate to admit it) it just ain't that much money in the grand scheme of things.
So pay up, shut up and move on.