Holy moly, Barack Obama wasn't kidding when he said he'd spread the wealth around! Today the president announced that executive compensation at companies receiving substantial government bailout funds would be capped at $500,000.
This is a terrible idea, because first: socialism. It is a proud American tradition to pay executives obscene amounts of money, because that is what the market will bear. And if you try to tinker with the market, for example by attaching preconditions to executive salaries, you're dabbling in social engineering and class warfare, and the next thing you know kids will be reciting Das Kapital in elementary school rather than the pledge of allegiance.
Second, everybody knows that money attracts talent; thus, the higher the salary, the more talent you attract. Many Wall Street CEOs and bank executives earn literally tens of millions of dollars a year, and most of them have proved to be pretty awful at their jobs. So if those massive salaries can't attract a minimum level of competence, just imagine what losers who will work for a mere $500,000 a year! Does President Obama want our troubled financial sector to be led by a herd of drooling dummies who can't even keep their shoes tied? Because he's sure acting like it!
Third, Obama proposed other contingencies that should accompany the disbursement of Troubled Asset Relief Program funds, including an increase in the number of company executives who could see their salaries and bonuses cut and their golden parachutes taken away altogether. This ratcheting downward of draconian compensation restrictions just puts the squeeze on mid- to upper-level management -- the very men and women who built their careers on staying quietly out of trouble and not attracting attention for any reason. To start holding middle management accountable could send a dangerous message to the whole workforce: that everyone, from the CEO to the mailroom clerk, shares some responsibility for a company's success or failure. This kind of collectivist hogwash sounds like -- you guessed it -- socialism.
Far better for things to remain exactly as they are, with CEOs blithely helming tanking businesses, fiercely guarding their cushy salaries -- which they need, by the way, because eight-bedroom "cottages" in the Hamptons and multiple ex-wives don't pay for themselves -- and living penalty-free on the government dole. Capitalism at its finest!