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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 10, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Capping CEO compensation

A potentially dangerous precedent

President Obama’s decree to cap certain CEOs’ compensation will no doubt be another popular, “feel good” move for many. However, maybe we should ask ourselves if it doesn’t set a potentially dangerous precedent.

The government doesn’t have a sparkling track record for efficiently managing its own affairs. Yet it’s now posed to make some very deep incursions into the operation and control of the free-market system. By any other name, this would be called “socialism.” History shows us that a socialist system has never been successful in advancing any nation’s economic structure.

If Obama is so outraged over the admittedly excessive, and often undeserved, compensation of certain CEOs, I wonder if he would show equal zeal in reining in all the former members of Congress, high-level bureaucrats, elected officials, military leaders, etc. who parlayed their previous positions of power and influence into seven-plus figure incomes after leaving their federal payrolls.

One can reasonably question the ethics of those who now lobby to change the laws and regulations they were once instrumental in enacting and enforcing solely for the benefit and advantage of their new employers. It would seem even more unconscionable when they are doing it to promote and benefit foreign interests and governments.

I have yet to hear anyone in the “other” Washington raising a protest about that kind of activity, and I doubt I ever will.

My grandfather often said “The Golden Rule” meant those with the gold get to make the rules. No one has more “gold” to at their disposal than the government.

— Lee Fowble, Edmonds

Finally, making it clear

Thus far, President Obama has been impressive. Unlike so many politicians in my lifetime, he seems willing and able to level with us, rather than take the easy way out.

I have long wondered why so many people felt it was acceptable for the top earners to receive obscene salaries and bonuses, often based on the price of the company’s stock, which is so often a poor barometer of the real, long-term health of the company.

I wish it had not taken so many years of greed, and such an economic meltdown, for a president to make so clear that this behavior is unacceptable.

President Obama has called for a salary limit of $500,000 per year for executives working for the companies that will share in the bailout and stock options, which can only be redeemed after the government has received its money. This is in stark contrast to former President Bush, who, a few months ago, said limits on executive compensation were unacceptable.

So much for having a MBA president who would run the government like a business. Unfortunately, it was run like Enron, WorldCom and Bernie Madoff’s investment firm.

I prefer what we are now getting from President Obama. Just imagine what he and his administration could do if it did not have to spend so much time and energy on keeping us from falling into the abyss created by the past 28 years.

— Russ Kevin Childers, Seattle

Comments | More in Barack Obama administration, Federal bailouts, Recession

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