Wall Street passed out “Xmas” Bonuses this year in the tens of millions of dollars. Some guy got a $54 mil bonus, others got equally absurd checks. How does one “earn” a $54mil dollar “bonus? The simple answer is, he doesn’t.
Sorry, but there is no “earning” involved in these paychecks. Maybe”reap” (or some variation of those letters) or “procure” – but not “earn”.
It will probably come as a surprise that when it comes to this ludicrous “compensation” arrangement – I really don’t care. I (probably) wouldn’t turn down a check for $54mil – even after taxes.
No, how much these guys agree to pay each other does not concern me nearly as much as how much “we” pay the people who actually “work” for “us”.
The Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Justice Roberts, has weighed in with his concerns about judicial pay. He says it “threatens the judiciary”.
Roberts says low judicial salaries are “grievously unfair”. “Pay for federal judges is so inadequate that it threatens to undermine the judiciary’s independence.”
Roberts said “the judiciary will not properly serve its constitutional role if it is restricted to people so wealthy that they can afford to be indifferent to the level of judicial compensation, or to people for whom the judicial salary represents a pay increase.”
Essentially – the best and the brightest who are not independently wealthy cannot afford to become judges.
Go ahead and cry for the poor judge who “only” “earns” a couple hundred thousand dollars per year. But while you play the “air violin” in mock sympathy for his hardship – take a look at the “applicant pool” for judges. How much is a a good judge worth? Do we want “the best”? Or is this the place where “we” can scrimp?
Do we want the best lawyers (ok, best and most expensive are not necessarily synonomous, but a pretty good guage) take huge pay cuts to become judges… with the idea that they can capitalize financially on their positions later? or do we want the run of the mill, struggling practitioner who considers the judges’ salary the “big bucks”?
Or do we “only” hire the “true believers”…. the righteous souls who have a calling and are unconcerned with material comforts? (I think the Vatican has dibs on them… except for the women, of course). That has worked so well with teachers and the state of education. They should be so proud to be teachers/judges that they are willing to work long, thankless hours simply for the pleasure of contributing to society. As Dr. Phil would say… “How’s that working for you?”
Here in HoCo we have our own local contradictory expectation/compensation systems. Our school system (a $500 million plus per year enterprise) is overseen by 7 folks who “earn” roughly $14,000 per year. “We” put these people in charge of 1/2 of our County budget, the education of our children, and allow them influence over the value of our greatest investments (for most of us our homes) —- and we expect them to do it basically as “volunteers”.
In theory it is a “parttime” oversight position. But it really isn’t, and hasn’t been for some time. Which is why there is a built in bias against folks who are gainfully employed in fulltime jobs. The voters consistantly tell us “we don’t think you can do this job and a regular job at the same time” by voting for the retired folks and the professional volunteers in the community. The current (new) board has two members with “jobs” (Frank Aquino and Ellen Giles). The last BOE had two also, one elected- one appointed. Contradictory demands and counterproductive pay.
The County Council is more reasonably compensated – but their numbers also beg the questions of “why would anyone want this job” and “why would anyone put themselves through a campaign” to get it?
Some jobs truly cannot be adequately compensated. I just cringe when I hear a comment about a policeman who has been shot, or a fireman who has been burned “that’s what they get paid for”. NO, it isn’t. They get paid for patrolling the streets, training, teaching, filling out paperwork, inspecting buildings …. risking their lives is something they “give from the heart”. Same thing for the professional soldiers.
There are people who get “paid” to get shot at —- they make A LOT of money. They’re called “mercenaries”.
And then, of course, there is the issue of “minimum wage” —- a whole ‘nother discussion.
Sadly, everyone I know has heard about the $54 million bonus – but none of the folks I have asked actually know what the current minimum wage is.
We can’t (shouldn’t) do anything about the ludicrous cross pollination going on in the M&A world by getting excited about the paychecks —- though when publicly traded companies are involved the stock holders who actually pay the bills ought not be left holding the bag (again, another discussion) . However, we can, and should, take care of business in our own back yard. Local minimum wage requirements have worked in many high priced areas.
Let’s take the “servant” out of Public Servant. Let’s take a good look at our conflicting demands and contradictory expectations. We want good people, talented people, committed people , to agree to take these jobs —- virtuous people, even. However, I think we count on only those willing to take a vow of poverty at our own peril.