The Audacity of Greed

I saw this headline on my way in to work this morning (to do more LSAT practice) and couldn’t believe it: Wall St. is shameful? Traders blast Obama.  I found the story online and realized how easy it would be to get two anonymous “traders” to whine to a small paper about Obama’s pushback against bonuses…that this story means little.  But it still enraged me, and I think this sentiment is indeed real and pervasive among some of the “traders” in the industry.

Jody, who wouldn’t give her last name, said she had just landed a job at a major Wall Street firm after nine months of job searching.   “[Obama] has to sit down and understand the compensation structure of low- to middle-management Wall Street. … A bonus is 20 to 50 percent of a person’s annual salary,” she said. “If you want to stimulate the economy, you can’t take the legs out of the working man.”

“the working man”!!! 

I hear this argument floated all the time–market factors require these companies to pay obscene bonuses in order to retain the best talent.  I think it has some merit under normal economic conditions.  These are the biggest banks on the planet and you need grade-A all-stars running the show…but these guys need to stop pretending they ARE grade-A and deserve grade-A.  They screwed shit up…humility is unquestionably in order right now.  Their performance clearly does not merit a “normal” bonus, nor should we continue to honor the percentage-of-salary custom.  Once the US Government gives them a single penny to fix their mistakes, they lose all sovereignty over bonuses, in my view.  

Lastly, the absolute trump-card: it’s not your fucking money.  It’s my fucking money.  And it was given to you with the express purpose of freeing up credit and jump-starting lending.   NOT a $1200 trashcan!!  If they lose their execs due to paltry bonuses, isn’t that a service to the taxpayer??  Also, won’t this belt-tightening be occuring all across the financial industry??  The argument seems rather fallacious in suggesting there are other bloated banks waiting to poach these rare gems with the offer of glorious bonuses.

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