President Obama is ready to apply that Golden Rule to the corporations putting their hands out for bailout money. Yesterday the President announced a plan to require big bailout recipients to cap their executive pay at $500K. Obama's rules would also limit severance pay. Execs can still receive stock options as compensation, but they can't cash those stock options in until the company has paid back the money we taxpayers lent them. How's that for motivation to get the company in the black again?
Says President Obama to anyone worried about socialism, Marxism, or simple intrusion in the free market:
This is America.... We don’t disparage wealth. We don’t begrudge anybody for achieving success. And we believe that success should be rewarded. But what gets people upset — and rightfully so — are executives being rewarded for failure. Especially when those rewards are subsidized by U.S. taxpayers [President Barack Obama, quoted in Stephen Labaton and Vikas Bajaj, "Obama Calls for 'Common Sense' on Executive Pay," New York Times, 2009.02.04].
On MPR Midday yesterday, a discussion of public ethics turned to corporate ethics (oxymoron jokes welcome). On the executive salary cap, someone offered the predictable party line that corporate exectuives deserve all the compensation the market will bear, since they generate wealth and are the "heroes" of the economy.
But golly gee, if your corporation needs a government bailout, what kind of capitalist hero are you? Other welfare recipients have conditions placed on their federal assistance; corporate executives should be no different.
Execs, you take our money, you work for us. And at $500K, you're still earning more than our CEO and board of directors.