Personal Responsibility

If you’re poor or middle class, anyway. If you’re a CEO, what’s an extra unearned million or two?

As executive pay packages have rocketed in recent years, their defenders have contended that because most are tied to company performance, they are both earned and deserved. But as the Las Vegas Sands example shows, investors who plow through company filings often find that executive compensation exceeds the amounts allowed under the performance targets set by the directors.

Executives of companies as varied as Halliburton, the military contractor and oil services concern; Assurant, an insurance company; and Big Lots, a discount retailer, all received bonuses and other pay outside the performance parameters set by the boards of those companies.

It is the equivalent of moving the goalposts to shorten the field, compensation experts say.

“Lowering the hurdles is especially disconcerting because very often the goals are not set all that high to begin with,” said Lucian Bebchuk, professor at Harvard Law School and author with Jesse Fried of “Pay Without Performance.” Mr. Bebchuk said shareholders should be especially alert to increases in bonuses because more companies were shifting away from stock options and into cash incentives.

I love the double standard. Results don’t matter, you get compensated either way.

Actually, I’ve noticed that this is one of the key differences between the right wing and left wing these days. The former think that personal responsibility and accountability should only apply to the poor; the left would rather see it applied fairly and accross the socioeconomic spectrum.

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