In an unprecedented move, it was announced recently that the Obama administration would cut the salaries of 25 top executives of the seven largest banking firms in the country. For a presidential administration to propose wage control on a major company is a slippery slope toward government control.
It’s an insult to the free market system. Wage control should not be government-driven, but market-driven. If the company loses money, then the wages should be cut naturally, because there isn’t enough money in the company to sustain the large salaries, but for the government to tell a company what they can pay or not pay frankly is none of the their business.
I know these are unprecedented times, which call for unprecedented measures. Last year was the worst financial year since the Great Depression, and the federal government took the unprecedented steps of bailing out the seven largest banking systems with the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and $700 billion.
With so much money riding on the line, it is prudent for the executive branch to keep a sharp eye on the seven companies in question, and it could be done with transparency by embarrassing the seven companies by revealing to the public their exorbitant salaries and bonuses. The government has done this, but to tell them how to run their businesses is just a little too much government interference.
When we allow our government to trample on our freedom for our protection and security, then we are giving up part of our freedom that may never be returned. When we allow our government to tell us how much to pay our employees, no matter how exorbitantly the employees may be charging, then we are giving them a part of our freedom to run our own companies.
In March 2009, the Obama administration, as part of its bailout of the auto industry, ushered CEO Rich Wagoner of General Motors (GM) out of the building and replaced him with board member Fritz Henderson. Talk about regime change.
What business is it of the federal government to tell a company who their top executive should be? Again, these were unprecedented times, which called for unprecedented measures, but how much government interference is too much? When we allow the government to tell us who the CEO of our company should be, then we are giving up our freedom to choose or elect our executives.
In 2002, George W. Bush decided that Palestine needed regime change and said that Yassar Arafat was an obstacle to negotiations and that new leadership was crucial for the creation of a provisional state in Palestine. Again, what business was this of his? Arafat was an obstacle to negotiations and an obstacle to peace, but we had no business telling the Palestinian people who they should elect or not elect as their leader.
When Bush decided that Iraq needed regime change and Saddam Hussein was hunted and brought to trial, what business was it of ours? Hussein was a ruthless leader who had his own people killed and was in total control of his government, but what business was it of ours to go into a foreign country and kick out their leader?
After the disaster of Sept. 11, the Patriot Act was enacted by the U.S. government to protect us from terrorists who take advantage of our electronics, such as telephones, the Internet or any other form of electronics that could be used and abused by terrorists. We gave up some of our rights to privacy so that the government could seek out terrorists.
With the writ of habeas corpus, an American citizen cannot be detained unless they are brought before a judge and proof is shown that this citizen is a threat to society. Proof must be shown within a timely manner, or the detainee must be released. That is our protection under the law, and that is law of the Geneva Convention. Since the members of Al-Qaeda were not citizens of any particular country, George W. Bush’s friend and personal attorney, Alberto Gonzalez interpreted the law to mean that since the detainees had no formal country, they also had no rights either.
Some were kept in Guantanamo prison for eight years with no hearing, no proof and no freedom. What a good example we are setting for the rest of the world for American law and American human rights.
With the recent organizational changes of General Motors and the current pay cuts of banking firms, we are now seeing the government gain more control. With the Patriot Act, we are seeing our freedom of privacy being given up to the government for our protection against terrorists.
When we allow our government to protect us from financial insecurity or protect us from foreign terrorists, we are giving up our personal freedoms which may not be returned in the future. It’s time to take responsibility for ourselves, to check our financial institutions for their integrity, to run our businesses wisely and well, so that government intervention is not needed to set us on the right track.