Dear Dirty America


Do Bankers Deserve Massive Bonuses?

March 15
19:37 2012
Los Angeles

Dan Ariely studied humans who were under the pressure of earning considerable sums of money for performing mental tasks:

The conclusion was clear: paying people high bonuses can result in high performance when it comes to simple mechanical tasks, but the opposite can happen when you ask them to use their brains–which is usually what companies try to do when they pay executives very high bonuses. If senior vice presidents were paid to lay bricks, motivating them through high bonuses would make sense. But people who receive bonus-based incentives for thinking about mergers and acquisitions or coming up with complicated financial instruments could be far less effective than we tend to think–and there may even be negative consequences to really large bonuses (35-6).

Why do we allow our Wall Street friends to give themselves such incredible bonuses every year, and with our tax dollars? Why don’t we pay our janitors exorbitant rates for cleaning the filth from public toilet seats, and mopping up vomit after some kid with a bad haircut eats too much cotton candy and pukes up everything he’s eaten that day in the local department store?

Maybe we could give sizable bonuses to the people in our society who sew our clothes, keep our streets clean, fight crime, put out fires, keep up our lawns and landscaping, and serve us meals and drinks.

Of course, this idea is nothing new, but our society begins shifting its perspective on what and who it values, we could make significant differences in who lives the American Dream, and who doesn’t.

And who shouldn’t be living the American Dream? Those who slice up our debt or home mortgage into one hundred pieces, and then sell trade that debt and make bets on that debt and sell it to their clients. People who capitalize off of other people’s financial misery and produce nothing of worth for our society.

What if we went back to buying local? Supporting our neighbors’ businesses and keeping our hard-earned dollars in circulation in America, and not burying them in Walmart’s mountain of money stored in offshore accounts, and reinvested in breaking up unions and busting beautiful, thriving American downtown marketplaces.

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