As if the assault on American’s freedom and capitalism wasn’t bad enough, it just got worse. The Obama administration has several formerly private sectors on tinder hooks waiting for more bailout money. The Treasury Secretary is now resorting to blackmail to get CEOs from these companies to resign (see story about Wagoner at GM, http://online.wsj.com/article/… And now, hot off the press, our own Barney Frank is determined to make the government responsible for setting EVERYONE’s salary in the new Pay for Performance Act of 2009, http://www.washingtonexaminer….
Now, in a little-noticed move, the House Financial Services Committee, led by chairman Barney Frank, has approved a measure that would, in some key ways, go beyond the most draconian features of the original AIG bill. The new legislation, the “Pay for Performance Act of 2009,” would impose government controls on the pay of all employees – not just top executives – of companies that have received a capital investment from the U.S. government. It would, like the tax measure, be retroactive, changing the terms of compensation agreements already in place. And it would give Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner extraordinary power to determine the pay of thousands of employees of American companies.
The purpose of the legislation is to “prohibit unreasonable and excessive compensation and compensation not based on performance standards,” according to the bill’s language. That includes regular pay, bonuses – everything – paid to employees of companies in whom the government has a capital stake, including those that have received funds through the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The measure is not limited just to those firms that received the largest sums of money, or just to the top 25 or 50 executives of those companies. It applies to all employees of all companies involved, for as long as the government is invested. And it would not only apply going forward, but also retroactively to existing contracts and pay arrangements of institutions that have already received funds.
The Pay for Performance Act of 2009 will start with companies who’ve accepted bailout money. But don’t be surprised when it spreads its wings to all private sector companies.
At this point, we would do well to heed the words of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s at the opening ceremony of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2009. From the Wall Street Journal, http://online.wsj.com/article/…
Esteemed colleagues, one is sorely tempted to make simple and popular decisions in times of crisis. However, we could face far greater complications if we merely treat the symptoms of the disease.
Naturally, all national governments and business leaders must take resolute actions. Nevertheless, it is important to avoid making decisions, even in such force majeure circumstances, that we will regret in the future.
This is why I would first like to mention specific measures which should be avoided and which will not be implemented by Russia.
We must not revert to isolationism and unrestrained economic egotism. The leaders of the world’s largest economies agreed during the November 2008 G20 summit not to create barriers hindering global trade and capital flows. Russia shares these principles.
Although additional protectionism will prove inevitable during the crisis, all of us must display a sense of proportion.
Excessive intervention in economic activity and blind faith in the state’s omnipotence is another possible mistake.
True, the state’s increased role in times of crisis is a natural reaction to market setbacks. Instead of streamlining market mechanisms, some are tempted to expand state economic intervention to the greatest possible extent.
The concentration of surplus assets in the hands of the state is a negative aspect of anti-crisis measures in virtually every nation.
In the 20th century, the Soviet Union made the state’s role absolute. In the long run, this made the Soviet economy totally uncompetitive. This lesson cost us dearly. I am sure nobody wants to see it repeated.
Nor should we turn a blind eye to the fact that the spirit of free enterprise, including the principle of personal responsibility of businesspeople, investors and shareholders for their decisions, is being eroded in the last few months. There is no reason to believe that we can achieve better results by shifting responsibility onto the state.
And one more point: anti-crisis measures should not escalate into financial populism and a refusal to implement responsible macroeconomic policies. The unjustified swelling of the budgetary deficit and the accumulation of public debts are just as destructive as adventurous stock-jobbing.