Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Did Someone Mention Money?

Megan McArdle is still obsessing over executive compensation. It bothers her greatly that executives at failed companies (kept alive only through money taken without permission from the taxpayer) will not get their bonuses. In fact, she's positively shrill.
Of course the AIG bonuses should go back! They were paid to people in the very group that lost money! They were paid to people who have already left
the firm, putting the lie to the idea of retention bonuses! Also, they
couldn't get jobs anywhere else anyway, so retention bonuses are unnecessary!
And it's all just unmitigated greed! They're lucky to have jobs at
all! They should be volunteering to work for free, wearing sackcloth and
ashes, and grovelling on the ground in front of every taxpayer they can find,
begging for forgiveness!

It's rare for McArdle to work up a passion about anything, but money does tend to get her...excited.
I've heard a lot of complaints along the lines that the AIG people who
didn't immediately volunteer to work overtime and be paid in cigar bands are not
merely immoral, but unpatriotic.

I know and like some of those commentators, and I do believe in their fervent love of their country. I do not, however, believe that this love would actually keep them working long hours for little-to-no pay at a company that was failing because people in another department, people long since given the sack, had screwed up

My goodness, the executives will work for "little-to-no-pay" and are being told they "should work for free?" How will they live? Pay prep school tuition, buy groceries at Zabar's, shop at Harrods, hire household staff? Let's ask the AIG executive that McArdle is weeping over.
I know that because of hard work I have benefited more than most during the economic boom and have saved enough that my family is unlikely to suffer devastating losses during the current bust. Some might argue that members of my profession have been overpaid, and I wouldn't disagree.

Oh. Due to his "hard work" helping with the slicing and dicing and leveraging and insuring credit default swaps, work that resulted in the failure of his company, he is now set for quite a while, perhaps for life. Back to McArdle:
Nor do I think that they would feel that they were shirking their moral obligations if they accepted a job at another firm rather than lashing themselves more firmly to the deck of the Titanic. Perhaps there was some long lost period in American history where people identified so thoroughly with the corporations who employed them that they treated their employer's ethical obligations, its best interest, as identical with their own, willingly incinerated their careers on the altar of failing firms. But if so, thank God it's over. That's not patriotic, it's creepy.

I put this paragraph here so somebody could tell me what the hell she's trying to say. The failed employee might leave, which would be tragic but good riddance to the employee, since people who stay with a sinking ship are creepy?

Your guess is as good as mine.


Julia said...

She's saying that if they didn't feel an ethical obligation to balance the interests of their employer with their morally-bankrupt entitlement-crazed solipsistic view of self-interest when the company was making them rich, she doesn't see why they would start now.

It's certainly not what she would do.

Susan of Texas said...

Heh. Just in case we thought people should be loyal to their companies, Megan lets them off the hook.