Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Obama Blasts "Tone Deaf" Business Execs.

Obama is right to label chief executives as "tone deaf" to the reality of the situation which they now find themselves in:

BARBARA WALTERS: How did you feel when you read about the three heads of the auto companies taking private planes to Washington?

Well, I thought maybe they're a little tone deaf to what's happening in America right now. And this has been a chronic problem, not just for the auto industry, I mean, we're sort of focused on them. But I think it's been a problem for the captains of industry generally. When people are pulling down hundred million dollar bonuses on Wall Street, and taking enormous risks with other people's money, that indicates a sense that you don't have any perspective on what's happening to ordinary Americans. When the auto makers are getting paid far more than their counterparts at Toyota, or at Honda, and yet they're losing money a lot faster than Japanese auto makers are, that tell me that they're not seeing what's going on out there, and one of the things I hope my presidency helps to usher in is a, a return to an ethic of responsibility. That if you're placed in a position of power, then you've got responsibilities to your workers. You've got a responsibility to your community. Your share holders. That if -- there's got to be a point where you say, 'You know what, I have enough, and now I'm in this position of responsibility, let me make sure that I'm doing right by people, and, and acting in a way that is responsible.' And that's true, by the way, for members of congress, that's true for the president, that's true for cabinet members, that's true for parents. I want all of us to start thinking a little bit more, not just about what's good for me, but let's start thinking about what's good for our children, what's good for our country. The more we do that, the better off we're going to be.

Should bank executives -- it's almost Christmas time -- forgo their bonuses?

I think they should. That's an example of taking responsibility. I think that if you are already worth tens of millions of dollars, and you are having to lay off workers, the least you can do is say, I'm willing to make some sacrifice as well, because I recognize that there are people who are a lot less well off, who are going through some pretty tough times.
The bonuses being paid to these guys beggar belief. It's only at the very top of industry that we come upon this notion that exorbitant wages are simply not enough to encourage these people to do their jobs and that they must be given even more exorbitant bonuses on top of their exorbitant salaries if they do the job which they were originally handsomely rewarded to do.

On the factory floor if you can't do your job you get fired. The notion that you would get a bonus for doing the job that you are already being paid to do would seem incredulous.

And the notion that these guys might deserve bonuses whilst going cap in hand to the government asking for a bailout is simply an obscenity.

Obama is right to point out this disconnect from reality. Bush was always on the side of these guys, indeed, for the most part he was inviting them to create his environmental policies.

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