Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Where's the Outrage--and Where Should It Be?

Money is not the issue. Power is.

A year after causing the biggest economic meltdown since the Great Depression, corporate chieftains are paying themselves big bonuses again. Many of them get more in bonuses than you or I earn in salary or wages all year. The Obama administration is mildly chiding them. Some columnists (like the Boston Globe's Derrick Jackson) are calling it an outrage. But what they are looking at is just the symptom, not the disease.

Why do corporate CEO's, top managers, and boards get to decide what to pay one another, in an orgy of "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours"? Why does the finance industry get to accept billions in bailout money from you and me, then refuse to lend to people with good credit, including the small business around the corner? Why, when the U.S. government just saved corporate capitalism from a complete breakdown, does the government still defer to the corporate capitalists who steered us into the ditch to begin with?

Corporations in this country are more powerful than the people we elect to represent our interests. Until we squarely face that problem, shouting about exorbitant bonuses is just a way of letting off steam.

No comments: