Your salary is my salary now
The usual suspects are saying the usual things about the Obama Administration's move to limit the compensation of top executives of firms the U.S. government is bailing out. I agree that the gleefully populist tone of many supporters of the measure is unsightly. And I take the point made for instance by Terence Corcoran that it's a dangerous precedent, bad for the economy, harmful to entrepreneurship and so on. But remember that these are firms who went crying to the government which, to borrow from a country song, wiped their tears with taxpayers' money. If they are happy to let government deal with their failures they can hardly complain when it also deals with their successes if any. And they have a lot of gall, especially after diving wailing into the subsidy trough, to defend their right to extravagant compensation for having failed so badly as to make it necessary. Men and women of honour would, I suggest, have spontaneously renounced lavish compensation under such circumstances and, for that matter, been a little less greedy even in good times. Enormous salary differentials are demoralizing in companies as in sports teams and who wants to demoralize their underlings? Besides, maybe it's just me, but $20 million a year seems like plenty even if you are really really good.