Thursday, October 22, 2009

Quote of the Day

Speaking against the Treasury restricting the pay level of Wall Street CEOs (from here),
"We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity and opportunity for all,” Bloomberg news service quoted Brian Griffiths as saying. Griffiths is an adviser to Goldman Sachs International and once served as a special adviser to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Hard to argue with that. Salary cuts and layoffs shall make the rest of us free.


Andy said...

I agree with the sentiment, but I'm concerned about how the administration is going about this.

First, there is a "Czar" who did not have to go through confirmation implementing this.

More importantly, from what authority does the executive branch have the power to do this unilaterally?

Finally, there were many banks that were healthy that were forced to take bailout money to disguise which firms were actually insolvent. Is it really right for the government to compel those firms to take money they didn't need and then a year later alter compensation?

Personally, I am always fearful of executive power. I certainly was under Bush and I continue to be with President Obama. Despite the popularity and populist outrage that is at the root of this move, I think everyone should really consider how it's being done and why before supporting it.

helmut said...

Yes, we're all aware that political power can be and is often abused. That's pretty much a truism for the human species. But it's also not an absolutism. To assume it is or to have some absolute fear of political power, is to assume your way right out of your political autonomy and agency. There are plenty of people who would love you to do precisely that, especially the previous administration. We don't elect priests.

As for the "czar" thing, honestly.... Andy, you seem willing to discuss matters as a reasonable human being, but then get caught in the rhetoric of your own political preferences. The "czar" crap is propaganda. Plain and simple. I live in DC. We all advise each other on all sorts of things. That's a good thing. The previous administration thought otherwise.

Yeah, the bank bailout is fucked up. But we inherited it from the previous admin and have to deal with it as we can. To the extent that we also inherited the same assumption of Wall Street exceptionalism is the extent to which I'll gladly watch the people most enamored by this self-interested Horatio Alger myth peel off of the current admin.

Andy said...

Well, Czar isn't my name, is used by both sides and doesn't say anything about what you may believe my political preferences are. I first heard the term as a teenager during the Reagan administration and it's been commonly used since.

Yes, we don't elect priests, but I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me the legal basis for this action - upon what authority does an unconfirmed member of the executive branch wield such power?

And now I'm reading that this would not apply to banks who took federal money (willingly or no), but to thousands of banks who are completely solvent and took no federal money. This is supposedly a measure to limit risk-taking. That's one of the stupidest things I've ever heard.

I don't really care about the bad CEO's personally. I would like to see much more reasonable executive pay, and not just in banking, but getting there through government fiat is unnecessary (there are many other options), probably unconstitutional and, if allowed to stand, would set a bad precedent. Nevermind that carrying out a vengeance campaign against executives doesn't do much to solve the systemic problems in the financial sector.