Friday, January 30, 2009

Bully Pulpit

President Obama branded Wall Street bankers “shameful” on Thursday for giving themselves nearly $20 billion in bonuses as the economy was deteriorating and the government was spending billions to bail out some of the nation’s most prominent financial institutions.

It's good to hear the president using the 'bully pulpit' to shame immoral citizens. Shades of Teddy Roosevelt. It probably wouldn't make any difference in the behavior of the Thains and Madoffs, who are going to do all they can to steal cookies from the cookie jar, but it sure lifts everyone elses spirits.

I saw a report recently that top executives several decades ago used to receive about 30 times the compensation of the lowest paid worker, whereas over the last decade or so, the ratio has risen to an obscene 1000 times the lowest paid worker. It's time to reverse that and bring it down to reasonable levels again.

For example, if the lowest paid worker in a company makes $7 an hour, that's about $14,500 per year. 30 times that is $436,000 per year. Excuse me, but I think that's enough for any executive, who are themselves employees. Why should anyone make anymore than that? In fact, I think that's excessive. (If you own the company, that's different and a whole different calculation takes effect.)

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