Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Framing and Shaking

My comment, reposted from the Faith and Leadership site:


This may be beside the point of why the link was posted, but I object to the way the AIG bonus problem is being characterized. The Columbia professor takes a significant ethical failure and treats it as a PR challenge.

Part of the problem is that Wall Street has a different understanding of the word “bonus” than normal people do. (By “normal people” I mean honest taxpayers. In fact Wall Street categorizes a portion of salary as “bonus” to help them weasel out of paying their full share of income taxes.) The public outcry is due to the perception that AIG managers are being rewarded for massive failure, a failure for which “normal people” are picking up the tab.

The argument that we have to pay AIG employees handsomely so they’ll stick around to undo the mess they made, the mess that only they can straighten out – well, now it feels like they’re not simply cheating me, they’re shaking me down.

Business schools’ reputation has taken a beating this year, and I don’t believe this essay does anything to improve that.


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