Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Capping executive pay...What's the point?

The fact that someone's pay has to be capped at $500 grand right now, and that cut will potentially drive people away to new jobs, is infuriating. I won't lie about that. How is it possible people can be so rich, even while they've driven us into financial turmoil and have no reason to care? But what's the point of limiting them? That doesn't change the power they have and the lack of power we have. It won't save these banks and it won't save our economy and it certainly won't force these companies to make stimulative investments.

It's true that the institutions receiving and requesting TARP funds have been horrible at gauging just how patient the American people are going to be with elaborate company trips and massive bonuses. But you know, maybe it isn't that they're bad at gauging these things at all. Maybe they simply don't care. In this economic structure, we rely on them to save our economic asses, and they know we have to bail them out. At the end of the day, they know who they answer to, and it isn't us, as enraged as we become with their incredible wealth while we watch others suffer.

Let's nationalize these banks, as T suggests. I'm certain that if they were run by an organization with a public stake in seeing them succeed (that doesn't mean a big bubble, it means actual wealth creation, lending, and job stability for lots of Americans), the priorities would be different.

All these other petty "regulations" and condemnations are just shallow displays of a fairly low-level populism that one could just as easily see Sarah Palin promoting. This financial crisis and the failings of these financial institutions were not caused by greed or excessive salaries or anything else. They are caused by an ideology that says the free market knows best, for you and me, and that we should trust people who have no interest in serving the public or creating long-term stability or prosperity or loyalty even to the company they work for.

Pres. Obama shouldn't waste my time with pay caps. He really ought to make some substantive demands (like say, these TARP funds can't be used for anything except consumer lending). The stark inequality between my town and Wall Street is astounding, sickening, all those things. But limiting millionaires to a half a million doesn't put any money in struggling Americans' pockets. It might feel good to pretend we're forcing those with no perspective to live within our boundaries for awhile, but it's an entirely superficial sense of satisfaction, and we shouldn't forget that.

2 comments:

ln said...

Amen, Arvilla. Low-hanging fruit ...

T said...

Totally. I feel like facile discussions of this sort are cropping up everywhere... but where is the discussion about CAPITALISM? It may, after all, have something to do with how wages/compensation/resources/investment/power is allocated in our society...