Thursday, January 29, 2009

Why common folk think ill of Wall Steet

We are emerging from eight years with a president who was born on third base and thought he'd hit a triple. There is something ordinary folk resent about other folk who carry with them a sense of entitlement. Of course the world owes them deference, they seem to assert without a second thought. It's that sense of being owed something, most especially something the rest of the world does not perceive as having been earned.

Now, I have to acknowledge having received bonuses during my business career. I was in middle management and the bonuses were not immense. They were deemed a reward for my contributions and I, at least, am convinced I earned them. The largest came when I was involved in the formation of an R&D partnership and I worked incredible overtime hours and sacrificed my health in the process. I am quite certain that I earned every penny (and more).

I am thus not averse to the notion of bonuses as forms of incentive and reward.


I do not believe they should take the form of incommensurate extravagance that goes along with executive salaries that do not truly reflect effort and performance. Businesses are built on the labor of workers and no amount of putative executive vision and leadership can justify making hundreds of times more than folks working on the line. That it should even be considered reflects the most outrageous values and clearly implies dehumanizing all others who make a company succeed. And if a company is not succeeding, exorbitant rewards at the top not only make no sense, they are a scandal and an affront.

So massive layoffs of workers combined with massive rewards to executives offend most people. And they should.

You may read Ben White's article at the New York Times today titled "What Red Ink? Wall Street Paid Hefty Bonuses." David@Montreal sent it to me this morning. The dear man may have thought I needed something other than caffeine to kick-start me today.

Here is a stage-setting excerpt:
Despite crippling losses, multibillion-dollar bailouts and the passing of some of the most prominent names in the business, employees at financial companies in New York, the now-diminished world capital of capital, collected an estimated $18.4 billion in bonuses for the year.

That was the sixth-largest haul on record, according to a report released Wednesday by the New York State comptroller.

While the payouts paled next to the riches of recent years, Wall Street workers still took home about as much as they did in 2004, when the Dow Jones industrial average was flying above 10,000, on its way to a record high.
Here's the kicker:
On Wall Street, where money is the ultimate measure, some employees apparently feel slighted by their diminished bonuses. A poll of 900 financial industry employees released on Wednesday by, a job search Web site, found that while nearly eight out of 10 got bonuses, 46 percent thought they deserved more.
What can one say?

In the current economy I am grateful to be employed.
--the BB


Göran Koch-Swahne said...

And you are quite right, dear Paul.

Jane R said...

Yup, and I hear the President just chastised Wall Street people with high bonuses.

They are not going to like that but he's right on.

The word verification thingie is "renality." Or in other words, "kidney-ness!"

Though of course one could replace the r with a v...

susankay said...

And one of the twits in charge of these firms said he needed to give bonuses in order to retain the quality staff -- who have brought these wonderful financial results??

Paul said...

Susankay, I thought the same thing: THIS is a wonderful staff? The ones who drove us into the ground? We want to keep THEM?