After reporting blowout earnings last week, Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) said it has set aside close to $17 billion for employee compensation so far this year (or about half its net revenue). It's no surprise that Goldman now finds itself in the crosshairs of public outrage.

It's a familiar gripe: In the last year controversy has surrounded bonuses at AIG (NYSE:AIG) and Bank of America's (NYSE:BAC) Merrill Lynch unit. Citigroup (NYSE:C) avoided having to dish out millions to a star trader by selling its Phibro unit to Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY).

But according to one of Goldman's international advisors, the bonuses are something we have to "tolerate." Brian Griffiths argued this week that pay inequality helps achieve "greater prosperity and opportunity for all." The spending, he claims, will also help stimulate the economy.

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Brian Richards does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.