It looks as though even the national media have decided it's o. k. to use the “p” word — even if they have to teach the American public what it means.
Perhaps this will lead to a little press questioning of the administration's new eight hundred billion dollar bail-out proposal. Who exactly is it meant to benefit? Tellingly, Treasury Secretary Paulson
doesn't want to put a cap on executive compensation even for those
institutions that the American tax payer is being called on to rescue. As The New York Times reported:
Mr. Paulson said that he was concerned that imposing limits on the
compensation of executives could discourage companies from
participating in the program.
“If we design it so it’s punitive
and so institutions aren’t going to participate, this won’t work the
way we need it to work,” Mr. Paulson said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Let’s
talk about executive salaries. There have been excesses there. I agree
with the American people. Pay should be for performance, not for
But he quickly added: “But we need this system to work, and so we — the reforms need to come afterwards.”
Think about what he's saying. The major financial institutions are in such dire straights that unless tax payers assume their bad debts, they will likely collapse, taking the whole world economy down with them. But they might opt out of the bail-out if their top executives have limits set on their compensation.
In short, the executives would rather see their companies and the world economy tank than give up a dime of what they might be able to squeeze out of the crisis for themselves.
It's amazing that Paulson could say such a thing with a straight face. He's essentially admitting that the CEOs of America's major financial institutions are sociopaths. But that's plutocracy for you — personal shame and civic responsibility have no place in it.