Bob Franken

Spreading the Gains ands Pains

Now that the Treasury Secretary is responding to the uproar by pretending to take action against obscene executive compensation, it’s time to get real.

First of all, you can bet the accountants and lawyers are already taking meetings and charging billable hours to come up with creative strategies to get around these new regulations. Not only that, but the vast majority of the companies in this country will not be covered by these rules.

This raw deal is a big deal. While the U-S-of-A prides itself on being a land of opportunity, where anyone can go from rags-to-riches, the truth is we’ve devolved into a “rich to MORE riches”country.

We need to come face to face with the realization that someone can have too much, because the only way he can gain it is at the expense of everyone else.

We hear the constant bleating from those who argue that the genius entrepreneur needs incentive to create and develop the brilliant innovation that will help us live longer, produce more and most importantly, have new electronic toys.

But how much incentive does anyone need? Is it really necessary to pay 10’s of millions each year to some top honcho, particularly the one whose main contribution has been to take away the salary of many thousand others, through layoffs caused by bad management?

As for that aspiring Bill Gates: Does he really require billions to take his idea out of his dirty garage and into the marketplace? Of course not. A small fortune, as opposed to a humongous one would do just fine.

Now is the time to decide that a seven figure annual salary not eight or nine, is plenty. Now is the time to value other accomplishments than just the accumulation of useless wealth.

Setting easily circumvented and temporary executive compensation caps is not the answer Mr. Treasury Secretary. There’s a far better way: Taxes.

I know you’re not altogether familiar with the tax system, Secretary Geithner. but if we FIX it, maybe we could help achieve our goal of economic parity where personal fortune is commensurate with one’s contribution to society.

How to repair it? Easy. Raise the top brackets to confiscatory levels. Make it air tight where anyone who makes more than a few million a year, however he or she does it, must pay the bulk of it to Uncle Sam. Period.

Our country need this money that would probably go to still another vacation house, to help families avoid being tossed out of their single home.

As for those who contend that government bureaucracies are wasteful and slothful, they’re arguing about a separate issue.

We should indeed demand more effective services, but we have the chance as voters to make that happen, at least theoretically. We have no real ability to control what any super rich person does with his or her fortune, no way of making them share the wealth they’ve taken away from all the workers whose efforts allowed them to accumulate their hoard in the first place.

Let’s also give proper disdain to the argument they’ll simply set up shop in another country. We should encourage them to go, since they will have shown their utter lack of patriotism. Maybe they should leave their citizenship behind too.

Let’s make sure, however, they don’t abscond with the all the riches they could only have made here.

They probably need to get out while the getting is good. They’ll be turning their backs on a nation that has grown tired of those who would exploit its most natural resource, which is a belief that we’re all in this together, not as suckers to be taken by a few wheeler dealer operators.

Their henchmen from the Bush Treasury Department already managed the first 350 billion dollar bailout so badly that their Obama counterparts are scrambling to come up with a “Plan B”. Pretty soon we’re going to run out of alphabet, and hope. We will, unless we get to the root cause of this mess, which is our belief that money is the only value we value.

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