A gross proposal

S Aufrecht

The Obama administration is expected to impose a cap of $500,000 for top executives at companies that receive large amounts of bailout money, according to people familiar with the plan.

“That is pretty draconian — $500,000 is not a lot of money, particularly if there is no bonus,” said James F. Reda [of] a compensation consulting firm.

(New York Times)
Andrew Leonard at Salon adds,
The hell with nationalization! If we hear any more backtalk from Wall-Streeters-with-their-hands-out on how half a million dollars is “not a lot of money” it will be high time to round ‘em all up and sell ‘em to the highest bidder.

How much would you pay for a Vikram Pandit, John Thain, or Ken Lewis?

Actually, I think I could make a fair amount of money selling “2 CEOs, 1 Cup” videos.

A further comment: you don’t have to have a Che Guevara poster on your wall to perceive that people with money and power use that money and power to get more money and power. The current crisis is increasing the awareness of this basic fact. Perhaps that will lead to some changed laws. But what would help move the balance a bit further for a bit longer might be changes in mores and norms.

After all, CEO pay didn’t start skyrocketing because CEOs suddenly got greedy. They’ve always been greedy. Pay started skyrocketing because that class of people, the executives and the board members and all that, had the dawning realization that they could simply give themselves more and more money and nothing bad would happen to them. Laws and SEC regulations count as “something bad”, but can be circumvented. A general resetting of expectations would, I suspect, last a bit longer. Although I admit that the only way I can think to accomplish that is to send a lot of these people to prison or a life of well-earned destitution.