The public's outrage over the AIG bonuses\u00a0is so strong, you can almost taste it.\u00a0 As the facts unfolded this past week and a half,\u00a0one thing became\u00a0increasingly obvious:\u00a0\u00a0AIG executives and the American public have such differing perceptions\u00a0of\u00a0AIG's situation\u00a0-- it's as if\u00a0we are are living in parallel universes\u00a0with separate realities.\u00a0 AIG\u00a0appears to\u00a0feel\u00a0it's business as usual, with\u00a0barely a\u00a0few pesky little restrictions.\u00a0 The American taxpayers, on the other hand, have a totally different view.\u00a0 They think AIG is a failed company that is\u00a0undergoing a kind of specialized takeover in which they should have some say -- and with good reason.\u00a0 According to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, AIG\u00a0operated as a giant hedge fund.\u00a0 It engaged in risky activities\u00a0on a scale so massive, it's in a class by itself.\u00a0\u00a0It's\u00a0still in business\u00a0only due to the largess of the American taxpayer ponying up $85 Billion (correction - the amount is now $170 Billion).\u00a0 We couldn't afford to let it officially go under, or it would have taken down the entire financial system like a stack of dominos.\u00a0 Still,\u00a0AIG is a failed business. Executives in failed companies\u00a0don't\u00a0get rewarded.\u00a0 The employees at Enron, Worldcom\u00a0and other failed companies didn't. Let's be very clear on what the public's\u00a0outrage is about -- and not about.\u00a0 The\u00a0American public is not outraged with\u00a0the majority of\u00a0hard-working employees\u00a0at\u00a0AIG.\u00a0 No, this outrage is directed toward a relative handful of people.\u00a0 The outrage stems from the take-your-breath-away size of the bonuses --\u00a0and because so much money is being divvied up in the hands of a few. It feels like these bonuses are a replay of\u00a0the same\u00a0old story of\u00a0greed\u00a0that\u00a0got us into this economic mess in the first place.\u00a0\u00a0A small number of people are lured by the\u00a0desire for big money into\u00a0taking big risks -- putting everyone around them at risk.\u00a0\u00a0Others in the organization, from\u00a0the Board of Directors on down,\u00a0enable this risky behavior.\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0When will\u00a0these people ever learn? Instead, the Board should have exercised independent judgment.\u00a0 It should have asked "is this the right\u00a0compensation structure\u00a0for a failed company that nearly brought down the world economy single-handedly?" Also, as someone who's written numerous compensation plans over the years, I've never heard of retention plans that paid so handsomely.\u00a0 Maybe you offer an extra 20-25% of regular compensation to stick around -- not millions.\u00a0 Nor ones where the people get paid early.\u00a0 These sound more like the typical year-end\u00a0Wall Street\u00a0bonus \u00a0plans -- you know, "business as usual." Barack Obama, the President of the United States and Leader of the Free World, makes $400,000 annually.\u00a0 And look at the responsibility heaped on his shoulders.\u00a0 And\u00a0yet we're to believe\u00a0that someone with narrower responsibilities deserves $6.4 Million of taxpayer money?\u00a0 Something is wrong with that picture. So what do we do about these bonuses?\u00a0 I am not in favor of\u00a0taxing these bonuses at 90%, like the measure\u00a0the House of Representatives\u00a0passed last week.\u00a0 On the other hand, I also do not\u00a0buy into dire predictions that\u00a0clipping AIG's wings\u00a0somehow spells\u00a0doom to\u00a0capitalism.\u00a0\u00a0 We may well be inching closer and closer to\u00a0socialism -- but it's not because of the AIG bonuses or because we're being forced to do the job the AIG Board of Directors and the U.S. Treasury Secretary should have done in the first place.\u00a0\u00a0AIG's bonuses are\u00a0just a bad situation all the way around,\u00a0with no\u00a0good solutions.\u00a0 But unwind them -- seek the money back --\u00a0is what we should do. In the end,\u00a0unwinding the AIG bonuses\u00a0would be\u00a0a proper\u00a0exercise in capitalism.\u00a0 In capitalism,\u00a0executives should not get rewarded for their company's failure.