I had this exact same reaction.
Now that we're on the topic. I don't like federal money going to pay bonuses but seriously... this money was promised long ago and it's already been given out. Using the tax code to take it back? Wow this is seriously a real cluster @#$!
Ah, but it also helps to remember that $165 million is 3,300 times the annual median income in the United States. ($50,233 as of 2007). That may have an awful lot to do with the outrage as well.
I'm mixed on the tax myself. It appears to be drafted broadly enough to avoiding the constitutional issues, and I agree with the overall sentiment that these individuals have done absolutely nothing deserving of those bonuses.
But as folks say, it's a drop in the bucket. I seriously wonder if there is any real way to stop our massively over-leveraged economy from collapsing like a kicked souffle.
I understand numbers and the bonus payments still pissed me off. Just because something is a drop in the bucket doesn't mean it's not a waste. 165 million is a big number no matter how you look at it.
This XKCD comic is correct, but misses the point completely. It would be like saying that killing 30,000 people is "okay", since it is only taking away ~0.1% of the population. It is like saying that shoplifting from WalMart is okay, since you can't take away more than 0.1% of the corporation's profits.
This misses the point of the public outrage, while merely pointing out the rather small quibble point of billion vs million. Far below-par for XKCD's normal insights. Seriously, they are normally quite smart and telling. This one reads more like a person with a pet peeve not letting them see the larger picture leading to this moral outrage.
I think that Left_Wing_Fox really hit the nail on the head. That's a lot of money to give away as a bonus.
I normally really like XKCD though!