Saturday, October 24, 2009

Capping executive pay, You asked for it.

The federal government’s new Pay Czar, Kenneth Feinberg, has determiined that executives at several bailed out firms must take substantial pay cuts. This has predictably sparked a heated debate about whether the government should be involved in pay decisions and what constitutes “excessive pay”. I believe Wall Street has made its own bed, and now must lie in it.

When firms accept themselves as “too big to fail” and take money from taxpayers through the federal government, they lose any right to make free market arguments. These firms turned their backs on the free market system because they didn’t want to face the pain of failure. Now they have to accept their new masters.

Will government meddling and bureaucracy make the situations at these companies worse? Probably. Will talent walk away? Of course. Then again, it was the alleged “best and brightest” that helped create this fiasco. What about “mission creep”? What if the government decides to cap pay at companies that weren’t bailed out? The optimum time to put the brakes on the government takeover of the free market was before they started doling out TARP loans. Where were the shouts from the free market champions back then?

Eventually the government will wind down its takeover of big business because it will fail. Whether it’s this administration or the next one, reality will set in over time. For now, we’ll get a demonstration of what happens when entrepreneurs are replaced with czars and committees. I believe individuals are entitled to every dime they can make honestly in the free market, but I also believe that individuals and companies have to take the consequences of their actions and inactions. If you want out from under the thumb of the government, give the money back or find a new career.

Monday, October 19, 2009

No More "Lesser of two evils"

The Republican Party may have thought it had a great ally in the "Tea Party" movement. However, they're beginning to learn that opposition to liberal Democrats does not automatically mean support for Republicans.

The most obvious illustration is the race in N.Y. for the 23d Congressional District seat up for grabs this November. A liberal Republican, Dierdre Scozzafava, is vying for the seat against Democrat Bill Owens and Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman. While old-guard Republicans like Newt Gingrich are supporting Scozzafava, many of the "Tea Partyers" and conservatives such as Dick Army, are supporting Hoffman. Critics say that by splitting the vote between Hoffman and Scozzafava, the third party supporters may be handing the Democrat a win in a traditional Republican stronghold.

The fact that Republicans would even make that argument is a sign that they still don't understand what's going on out in the real world. People who are concerned about ever-growing government, outlandish spending, runaway deficits and the destruction of the free market system, don't give a hoot about the welfare of any political party. They want to vote for individuals who will work for what they believe in. Voting for the lesser of evils is no longer tolerable.

The grass roots rebellion that has become known as the Tea Party movement is comprised of individuals looking at the long term and not liking what they see. They see a real crisis upon us right now. They aren't interested in the numbers game played by the ruling parties in Washington D.C.. They want credibility, accountability, commitment.

I tend to agree with this sentiment. We are always told that it is our duty as a citizen to vote. However, if I don't like the choices put in front of me, I believe the better option is to not vote. Maybe we have to take another step or two in the wrong direction before we move to the right track. If one or both major parties becomes extinct in the process, so be it. If Republicans think that conservatives, capitalists, libertarians and independents have nowhere else to go, they're wrong...dead wrong.