Only on Wall Street: A $500,000 salary limit is "draconian"

Executive compensation limits for ailing bankers get a harsh review in the New York Times.

Published February 4, 2009 4:38PM (EST)

In response to the news that President Obama intends to cap salaries for employees of banks receiving significant government aid at $500,000, the New York Times provides us with this whopper:

"That is pretty draconian -- $500,000 is not a lot of money, particularly if there is no bonus," said James F. Reda, founder and managing director of James F. Reda & Associates, a compensation consulting firm. "And you know these companies that are in trouble are not going to pay much of an annual dividend."

Mr. Reda might want to refresh his knowledge of ancient Greek history. The laws set down by Draco, author of the first constitution of Athens, were considered harsh (thus the word "draconian") for good reason. For example, as Wikipedia reminds us, "any debtor whose status was lower than that of his creditor was forced into slavery."

The hell with nationalization! If we hear any more backtalk from Wall-Streeters-with-their-hands-out on how half a million dollars is "not a lot of money" it will be high time to round 'em all up and sell 'em to the highest bidder.

How much would you pay for a Vikram Pandit, John Thain or Ken Lewis?

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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