Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What Work is Worth $500,000?

Barack Obama has now tried to put his foot down forcefully on top of those aggravating compensation packages that seem to sustain the rich and mighty. Here is the report as Al Jazeera English pulled it from their wire sources:

Barack Obama, the US president, has said his government will impose a salary cap of $500,000 for senior executives at companies receiving federal economic bailout funds.

Obama also said the government would cap so-called golden parachute severance payments for executives leaving Wall Street firms receiving government aid.

"For top executives to award themselves these kinds of compensation packages in the midst of this economic crisis isn't only in bad taste – it's bad strategy – and I will not tolerate it as president" Obama said on Wednesday at the White House.

This is definitely a step in the right direction; but, in light of my recent thoughts about reform, would this not be a good time to try to take stock of just what constitutes "a fair day's work" for one of those senior executives? I, for one, would be hard pressed to come up with a satisfactory formula that would translate a day's worth of effort in a Wall Street executive office into "a fair day's pay." Given the risk factors involved, I suspect that no such cut-and-dried formula exists; but can we not expect at least some useful guidelines from a sector of the economy that prefers to keep itself shrouded in mystery while our Government is trying to be more transparent? We shall not have effective economic reform without effective compensation reform; and the latter is likely to require a thousand-mile journey. Nevertheless, in the spirit of the Tao Teh Ching, Obama may have found the right step to begin that journey.

1 comment: said...

While I believe less is more when it comes to government intervention, on this issue I wholeheartedly agree that income and perks should be limited for those who participate in the bailout until the money has been repaid. A good start but It's time to do more. How about the stocks and other options that could easily add up to millions of dollars?