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Well, at last, a few of the Wall Street CEOs we are bailing out with our tax dollars have had their sails slightly trimmed. The federal overseer of banker excess has now issued his report demanding that high-flying honchos at seven of the failed financial outfits no longer be royally compensated with annual tributes of gold, rubies, silk, and mink oil – but instead merely be very-well paid.
Some people – especially big bankers – moan that the pay czar’s restrictions are unwarranted, intruding into private corporate affairs best left to the careful judgment of boards of directors.
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Let’s see – those would be the same boards made up of the CEO’s cronies, relatives, and golf buddies who never say no to more gold and mink oil for the prince. These are the very directors, for example, who rubber-stamped millions of dollars worth of special perks to financial chieftains last year – even as you and I were shoveling billions of tax dollars into their banks to keep then from collapsing.
The directors at Bank of America gave their CEO an increase of $100,000 last year for his personal use of corporate jets. The board of Comerica awarded $200,000 to its chief for a new country club membership. And directors of GMAC Financial Services made a $2.5 million payment to cover the personal tax bill of their top executive.
As one critic of such lackadaisical, anything-goes corporate governance put it, “[These CEOs] can’t even leave a nickel on the floor.” With a sense of entitlement bigger than Jupiter, they want to put everything from their silk underwear to caviar on the company card – and they can count on their handpicked, compliant boards of directors to let them do it.
So, no, we taxpayers cannot leave such volatile issues as executive excess to those who have no self-restraint.
“Perks keep rolling at rescued banks,” www.washingtonpost.com, October 20, 2009.