The big economic news last night and this morning was that numerous Wall Street executives of bailed out firms were going to pay large bonuses this year. They justified this expense by saying that they have to compete with other firms to keep their good talent.
I recognize that the following may be an overgeneralization—which is why I put it on my blog—but here are a couple of concise thoughts which apply to many of these executives:
1. You are competing with yourselves. You sit on each other’s boards and vote pay raises for your competition, which then gives you the cover to increase your own salary. You are abusing your power to rig the game in your favor.
2. You are not productive. You do not make your money by increasing value for our economy but by taking money out. Earning money for your firm on commissions, volume trading, and credit default swaps is not the same as investing capital in promising businesses. You are parasites on our economy. You aren’t helping.
3. You are broke. Even if #1 and #2 are incorrect, the fact is that you are not successful enough to pay your bonuses with your own money, but are paying your precious talent with money you borrowed from us.
Our economy is approaching biblical proportions. Open to any of the Old Testament prophets, put your finger down and start reading. What they say is strikingly relevant today. Here are a couple of passages from Isaiah:
Does this sound like America? “Their land is full of silver and gold; there is no end to their treasures. Their land is full of horses; there is no end to their chariots. Their land is full of idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their fingers have made. So man will be brought low and mankind humbled….” (Isaiah 2:7-9).
Read this in light of the subprime lending scam: “Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land. The LORD Almighty has declared in my hearing: ‘Surely the great houses will become desolate, the fine mansions left without occupants’” (Isaiah 5:8-9).
Does this seem applicable to our elected officials and their lobbyists? “Your rulers are rebels, companions of thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them” (Isaiah 1:23).