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Not Enough

So President Obama wants government oversight of executive pay and bonuses at banks, investment firms, and God-only-knows where else as a part of proposed plan to "overhaul financial regulation."


My first thought was a Limbaugh-esque "See I told you so." When you take money from the government, you're in for a heap of trouble, mostly in the form of bureaucrats eager to help you spend "their" money.

But as I thought more about this issue, I began to wonder if, in fact, President Obama wasn't going far enough. After all, it would be difficult to find a single sector of our society that is not financially tied to the government in some form or fashion. As taxpayers, we should expect -- no, demand -- a track record of success and positive results when the government uses our tax dollars. Plus, we live in a world awash in "unfairness." After thinking about the problem for just a few minutes, three areas immediately came to mind:


You're joking, right? The government involved in sports? Absolutely. How many billions of dollars have local governments collected from us in the form of hotel/motel taxes, whose proceeds fund mega sports arenas? How many times have local governments raised sales taxes or enacted other tax programs in order to build lavish, hundred-million-dollar digs for professional sports teams? I think we should have the Federal government look into Major League sports teams, and act quickly to confiscate ticket revenue and other forms of compensation for teams with losing records. Obviously those teams are not being good stewards of the gobs of tax dollars thrown at them by local governments. And for "superstar" athletes who get enormous signing bonuses and outrageous compensation -- if you play poorly, the government swipes your bonus, and taxes your salary at 90%. That ought to motivate everyone to do their best, shouldn't it?


State governments give entertainment companies, especially TV and movie studios, millions of dollars in tax breaks for filming or producing entertainment in their respective states. So yes, government is involved in entertainment. I think we should look very carefully at actors, singers, TV shows, and films. If a movie or TV studio gets a tax break for filming on location and the film bombs at the box office, or the TV show is a ratings loser and gets canceled, the studio should pay a tax premium to the Federal government equivalent to the money they saved in state tax breaks. And actors, if your performance in said film or TV show is panned by critics, Uncle Sam takes 90% of the compensation you received for that role. And how about concerts? Aren't big-name music concerts often held in the taxpayer-funded mega-arenas built for professional sports? If newspaper reviews say that an arena concert was lame, the Federal Government should tax the performers for 90% of the ticket revenue and return the money to the attendees.


Who pays our public school teachers? Who funds our state universities? You guessed it -- the government. So I think we need much more government oversight and accountability with respect to our education system. If public school teachers have an unacceptable number of students who fail, then the government should tax away 90% of their compensation. If the school as a whole has unacceptable standardized test scores, then all teachers and administrators should be taxed at a higher rate. The government should carefully examine the course material at all higher education facilities that receive Federal money. If government inspectors determine that course content is inadequate, or if students rate a professor poorly, or if an unacceptably high number of students fail a professor's classes, then that professor's pay should be taxed at 90% by the Federal government. Further, universities with a significant number of inadequate courses or incompetent professors should be forced to give back all the Federal funding that they received during the previous year.

Will this ever happen? Of course not, and I think I know why. Most of the people I mentioned -- actors, musicians, athletes, teachers, etc. -- all belong to some kind of union. On second thought, maybe employees in the financial industry should just form a union. That way, they would be largely free from government interference in their compensation. And their compensation would be locked-in for the duration of their contracts, even in the case of poor job performance. Perhaps Hollywood can teach Wall Street something, after all.

(Note: I drafted this piece last night, and in the meantime I see that Scott Ott has tackled this subject as well. Do read his piece; he is a much better satirist that I am, even if we disagree about Hollywood.)


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Comments (10)

Don't get me started on Jar... (Below threshold)

Don't get me started on Jared Polis. Polis is the young man who, in his 20's sold the Blue Mountain Arts e-card business for nearly a billion dollars at the height of the Internet boom. How about a retroactive 90% tax on his worthless legacy.

Obamalala threw over $150 m... (Below threshold)

Obamalala threw over $150 million at Ayers run foundations that didn't improve education in the least. What part of that will he demand back? I am not surprised that the Obamalala administration has gone hard left. I am surprised at the speed at which it has gone and the willingness of the American people to let it happen.

Mike, how about politicians... (Below threshold)

Mike, how about politicians? Given the current state of affairs in Kalifornia, taxing 90% of their income would help plug the budget gap. At the national level, just think of all the income we'd get from the Obama crowd just on back taxes alone.

It shouldn't really be surp... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

It shouldn't really be surprising that those of the political philosophy that brought us the minimum wag are now talking about imposing a maximum wage. This is good news to lobbyists, tax accountants and lawyers who can expect to do a booming business helping companies create or find loopholes so they can attract and retain top talent.

Rather than risking our entire economy on an experimental idea like this, Congress should just impose a maximum wage on professional sports and see how well that works.

"Congress should just impos... (Below threshold)

"Congress should just impose a maximum wage on professional sports and see how well that works."

How about movie stars? That will go over big with Obama's pals in Hollywood. Maybe Susan Sarandon will enjoy being 'organized' by The One.

ENOUGH with the nickle & di... (Below threshold)

ENOUGH with the nickle & dime stuff Barry!

Just take EVERYTHING from EVERYBODY...and then establish "distribution centers" where we can line up for sustenance. 100% fair!

Above the "Distribution Centers" should be something catchy like, I dunno...

"Arbeit macht frei"

Write your legislators ever... (Below threshold)

Write your legislators every day. Tell them you want them to return 90% of their pay for the past ten years, since they've let things become so botched up in the first place. After that's been completed, we'll then consider whether their worthless hides are worth voting in again or not.

If the Washington post arti... (Below threshold)

If the Washington post article is correct.
AIG fired the people early last year that engaged in the directives trade that put the company at risk.
They then told the remaining employees who want to jump ship and who did not cost the company to stay, forgo their normal commissions and if they work all through 2008 they get a Bonous in March of 2008. If they stay through March of 2009 they get another bonus.
The new CEO did not like the deal and told the ONE . So they both get something.
1. The employees loose the money they earned and are made pariahs to the entire industry so that they cannot leave . Most likely they will be given a payout and now are slaves to AIG. The new CEO get to tell everyone how he saved the TAX Payers money and will most like make more than a $1. Like 10% of the total money he saved.
2. OBAMA gets his in to limit pay on Wall Street and then make it so that people will not work for evil bankers. He also thinks that with pay limited there will be more profit and more taxes collected. However without top talent he find out that the companies will lose their most valued resources and will not be as profitable.

I'd like to hear fro... (Below threshold)

I'd like to hear from George Soros on this

I am afraid that the educat... (Below threshold)

I am afraid that the education changes have already happened.

The teachers can do a damn fine job if they just lower the standards. Add lots of non academic subjects which don't demand much from students.

Approve textbooks which have a social agenda which may differ from how parents wish their children to be educated.

Stop school voucher programs.

Why do you suppose most high school graduates are not ready for college?






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