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The pay of American top corporate executives is obscene. About the only people who don’t agree with that statement are the executives themselves. In 1980, chief executives made 42 times what the average worker made. Last year, it was 319 times, according to the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy. The federal government has launched several initiatives to rein in this madness. The Treasury Department wants to hold down pay at seven bailed-out banks, the Federal Reserve wants to slash gambling incentives at more than two dozen financial institutions, and Congress wants to help shareholders have some say in top executive remuneration.

But can the government handle this without creating a vast, shiftless bureaucracy? It will be difficult. And whatever or however the government tries, can it be effective? It will take a lot of luck. By using its bully pulpit and a big stick, it might get some companies to detect which way the wind is blowing and change their ways — reluctantly and modestly. But that’s only a hope.

Basically, change must come from the grass roots. People must pressure companies and politicians. Those who own stock must bug boards of directors and managements to shape up, and they must tell mutual funds that hold stocks to raise hell. In particular, pension funds should ride herd on boards that let top executives rob the till. The big pension funds “should call a company and say, ‘You are screwing the shareholders. We don’t like your pay policies,’ ” says Graef (Bud) Crystal, former San Diegan, now living in Santa Rosa. He is one of the nation’s top authorities on corporate compensation and a guest columnist for Bloomberg News. “If enough institutions would make that call, the stock would crater” and chief executives’ stock options would go far south. The pension funds “have it in their hands to stop this but won’t.”

Agrees Todd Buchholz, San Diego economist/lawyer/author, “There are corporate boards that protect overpaid CEOs like the drones in a beehive protecting the queen bee. I wish that pension funds and other big shareholders were more aggressive” in fighting the plundering.

The Treasury’s so-called pay czar is trumpeting his clampdown on banks that have been rescued by the federal government, such as Bank of America and Citigroup. Top executives’ pay will be cut in half this year. But there are only two months left in 2009. What happens next year? “This is window dressing, political theater,” says Ross Starr, economist at the University of California at San Diego. “Since the Treasury has a major ownership stake in those institutions, I suppose it can make this stick for a year or two.”

Says Buchholz, “If you accept government money, you have to accept government regulation” of things such as top management pay. “I would be aghast and angry if I saw the government trying to control salaries in chemical, telephone, or other companies” that haven’t been bailed out.

In July, the House of Representatives passed a measure that, among many things, gives shareholders a nonbinding advisory vote on executive compensation. A similar bill is working its way through the Senate. The concept is called “Say on Pay.” Harrumphs Crystal, “That ‘Say on Pay’ is a joke. It’s not mandatory — just advisory. It has no teeth. Maybe it will accomplish a little bit: some odd board will pay attention to shareholders.”

The Federal Reserve has imposed sweeping remuneration limits on top executives of banks. The idea is to make sure that bankers don’t have incentives to gamble with funds they have borrowed for almost nothing. “Executive compensation for financial firms and others are short-term oriented; bonuses are based on current profits, not long-term profits,” says Starr. “There is an incentive for leaders to get out before the house of cards collapses.” The Fed as a bank regulator has the discretion to make these moves.

Compensation pros like Crystal cite history. In the early 1970s, President Richard Nixon tried to impose price and wage controls, to be administered by an officious bureaucracy. “It created discontinuities and dysfunctions and fell apart” as companies figured out ways to dodge the edicts, Crystal recalls. In 1992, when the average chief executive pay was $750,000 (then considered outrageous), President Bill Clinton tried to set up a system by which companies could not deduct pay of over $1 million from corporate taxes. “But then they gave exceptions to small companies and decided that it only applied to the top five executives at a company” and made other exceptions. Among other dodgy techniques, a chief executive making less than $1 million was immediately bumped up to the still-deductible $1 million level. The measure had little effect.

But it’s different this time, says Murtaza Baxamusa, economist at the Center on Policy Initiatives. “It’s a slow process, but it’s boiling up within the community. Every single politician is listening. The topic of executive salaries has entered into mainstream talk, unlike a couple of years ago,” he says. “There is a strong role for government,” which with grassroots support will be able to do what it hasn’t been able to accomplish previously. “Corporations are getting a free ride here. Superficial makeovers are not going to fly. We have a watchful and much-better-informed public.”

Some compensation experts think the best answer is full disclosure. The Securities and Exchange Commission, which is supposed to regulate major investment markets, requires that companies spell out their top dogs’ pay in official documents. Then, industrial and labor organizations and business-oriented publications print the data with help from compensation pros like Crystal. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” says Crystal, but the rules are already comprehensive, and there is not much more to disclose. “We have full disclosure. Did it cause pay to drop a lot? Not much,” says Crystal, who has long been disturbed by one thing: “There is no relationship between pay and performance.”

One argument against full disclosure is the so-called ratcheting effect. Chief executives see what their counterparts are bringing home and yearn to top them. Compensation consulting firms, seeing what executives at comparable companies make, will recommend that boards give top honchos even bigger pay boosts. Crystal questions that argument: the consulting firms will find the information in other ways, he says.

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or Nov. 13, 2009 @ 12:02 a.m.

response to 31 "do unto other..... In other words treat others the way you want to be treated. Socrates and Epictetus said the same thing, just using different words to say it.

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Don Bauder Nov. 13, 2009 @ 2:08 p.m.

Response to post #48: At which bar are you popping, and where is it? Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Nov. 13, 2009 @ 2:22 a.m.

Response to posts #24 & 25:

Your points were validated by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett during the CNBC capitalist love-in at Columbia Business School last night.

It was so stirring and inspirational that they almost held hands singing We Shall Overcome.

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Don Bauder Nov. 13, 2009 @ 7:11 a.m.

Response to post #33: Perfect. As always, Burwell is thinking. Best, Don Bauder

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pellis Nov. 11, 2009 @ 1:20 p.m.

FYI, Paul Jacobs (pictured far left) took a (mostly symbolic, I realize) 25% salary reduction this year after announcing that there would be a salary freeze across the board for all his employees. Without even discussing whether his compensation is obscene even after the 25% cut, I appreciated seeing that.

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Don Bauder Nov. 13, 2009 @ 7:30 a.m.

Response to post #34: Yeah, but suppose you like S&M. Should you treat others if they did, too? Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2009 @ 4:48 p.m.

Response to post #3: Paraphrasing the bible, "The mentally meek shall inherit the earth." Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2009 @ 1:35 p.m.

Response to post #1: Jacobs is a young man, only 46, having taken over from his father, the long-time CEO of Qualcomm. Paul Jacobs has only been CEO for four years. Despite his youth, his salary was quickly jacked up to $17 million by 2008. A drop of one-fourth of that sum is hardly an act of selflessness. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2009 @ 4:51 p.m.

Response to post #4: Oh yes, those were the pools that would run stocks up and down. Joe Kennedy was one of the best-known participants in these pools. (He was also tied up with the Boston mob.) Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Nov. 12, 2009 @ 2:27 p.m.

Response to post #22:

That's an intereting obfuscation Don, you might try running for office.

The reality is that we are truly screwed, no matter how much anyone denies the facts.

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Don Bauder Nov. 13, 2009 @ 2:14 p.m.

Response to post #49: We've gone from Golden Rule to Golden Stream. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2009 @ 8:13 p.m.

Response to post #9: Calpers, the public pension fund with the most weight, should take the lead in telling corporations to stop robbing the till. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2009 @ 4:52 p.m.

Response to post #5: It's not too complex. Wall Street owns both the Republicans and Democrats. Not gonna happen. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 13, 2009 @ 7:33 a.m.

Response to post #35: The worse the company's performance, the more wrinkles the board dreams up to overcompensate the CEO. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 13, 2009 @ 7:35 a.m.

Response to post #36: Gates and Buffett have a large personal stake in wooing the public back into this market. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Nov. 11, 2009 @ 1:59 p.m.

Once again, as Herbert Spencer predicted about evolution back in the 1850s “multiplication of the reckless and incompetent by offering them an unfailing provision --- discourages the multiplication of the competent and provident”.

We’re screwed as long as we keep electing “imbecile, slow, vacillating, faithless” politicians to Congress, CA legislature and SD City Hall because all the republicans and democrats run for office anymore are the reckless and incompetent that enable corruption, greed and hate.

Such is evolution.

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or Nov. 12, 2009 @ 6:08 p.m.

I prefer Socrates' interpretation: "Do not do to others that which would anger you if others did it to you." or that of Epictetus: "What you would avoid suffering yourself, seek not to impose on others."

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Don Bauder Nov. 13, 2009 @ 8:37 p.m.

Response to post #61: Should we call this a border war? Best, Don Bauder

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or Nov. 11, 2009 @ 11:31 p.m.

Don wasn't Joe Kennedy in the liquor business with FDR's son James at one time? I think James also worked in FDR's administration at one time be he had to quit. There was some accusation of using his government position to direct business to his own company, if I remember. Birds of a feather??

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 13, 2009 @ 10:50 a.m.

Well, we have really BIG problems now;

My mentor and idol, Lou Dobbs, has quit his CNN show.

Who shall lead us, the moderates and independant's, in this world of change now????

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 13, 2009 @ 3:50 p.m.

Lou Dobbs gone is cause for joy and happiness!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'M BUYING THE DRINKS!!!!!!!!!!!!

By CuddleFish

That is Blasphemy!

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Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2009 @ 8:26 p.m.

Response to post #10: Joe Kennedy was not only a notorious stock market manipulator, but also a close associate of Boston bootlegger mobs. FDR named him the first head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Upon hearing that Kennedy was a thief, Roosevelt threw back his head in laughter and said it took a crook to catch one. When Kennedy's son Bobby was chasing mobsters, a favorite statement about Bobby was, "So's your old man." JFK's White House mistress, Judith Exner, was supplied to him by a Chicago mobster. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 13, 2009 @ 8:38 p.m.

Response to post #62: Only occasionally do you take back a declaration, SP. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 13, 2009 @ 8:40 p.m.

Response to post #63: We have precious few fence-sitters on this blog. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 13, 2009 @ 10:57 a.m.

Response to post #44: Perennial optimism (at least in public) is an occupational disease. The lawyer going into a case HAS to believe he/she will win, just as a coach MUST believe his/her team will win. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 13, 2009 @ 11 a.m.

Response to post #45: I doubt if I have seen Dobbs six times (and then not for long), but commentators are not calling him a moderate. He rode anti-immigrant hysteria to high ratings, but got to thinking he was a god. Best, Don Bauder

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CuddleFish Nov. 13, 2009 @ 11:05 a.m.

Lou Dobbs gone is cause for joy and happiness!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'M BUYING THE DRINKS!!!!!!!!!!!!

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 11, 2009 @ 2:47 p.m.

I watched a PBS show last night on the 29 stock market crash. Very close to what we have today.

One thing I didn't know was Groucho Marx, and millions of others, were in the market on leverage of 10 to 1-and when the market crashed thye lost everything.

I also learned it was LEGAL back then to run up a stock, and then dump it. As long as you had a small circle of friends who could get a critical mass of the shares the scam would work.

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Don Bauder Nov. 12, 2009 @ 9:24 p.m.

Response to post #23: I don't think my Golden Rule observation is obfuscation. But I will fight to the death for your right to say that it is. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 12, 2009 @ 9:27 p.m.

Response to post #24: Yeah, but optimists get disappointed all the time. Pessimists don't. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 11, 2009 @ 2:51 p.m.

The pay of American top corporate executives is obscene. About the only people who don’t agree with that statement are the executives themselves. In 1980, chief executives made 42 times what the average worker made. Last year, it was 319 times, according to the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy.

The federal government has launched several initiatives to rein in this madness.

"....rein in..." the pay...LOL.

That is a bunch of BULL****!

You could END the excessive pay scam with one stroke of the pen, by simply taking away the tax deduction for CEO pay.

Without the tax credit there would be no multi million dollar payouts.

I guess that is too complex for the gov to figure out on their own.

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Don Bauder Nov. 12, 2009 @ 9:31 p.m.

Response to post #25: When Wall Street sharks want to dump their dogs on a sucker, they go looking for optimists. The Greater Fool Theory couldn't exist without optimists. Best, Don Bauder

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PistolPete Nov. 13, 2009 @ 11:18 a.m.

Calm down, CF. He'll be back on Faux ;-D

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Don Bauder Nov. 12, 2009 @ 9:37 p.m.

Response to post #26: Now, Socrates and Epictetus were both a helluva lot smarter than I could dream of being. But I gotta argue: both of them are making the Golden Rule mistake: thrusting one's own predilections on others. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 12, 2009 @ 9:39 p.m.

Response to post #27: See my response above. I hate to pick a fight with Socrates, but.... Best, Don Bauder

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JF Nov. 11, 2009 @ 6:11 p.m.

In particular, pension funds should ride herd on boards that let top executives rob the till.

This is an important point. Many separate private and public salaries, justifying private salaries by saying that it's private money. Not when publicly funded retirement systems are investing in those companies....

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 11, 2009 @ 6:11 p.m.

Joe Kennedy was one of the best-known participants in these pools.

By dbauder

Yes, Kennedy's name, along with JP Morgan and a few others kept popping up in these scams.

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Twister Nov. 12, 2009 @ 12:25 p.m.

FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS!

Power works by dividing the opposition, or, better yet watch in hand-rubbing glee as the oppositions does it voluntarily.

Parasites need cooperative victims--or those which bicker interminably among themselves, admire their digressions, and otherwise play into the hands of the parasites.

Boycott, boycott, BOYCOTT!

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SDaniels Nov. 13, 2009 @ 9:23 p.m.

...of course one must wear garden clogs, too, as much fertilizer is sown, or thrown ;)

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Don Bauder Nov. 12, 2009 @ 7:15 a.m.

Response to post #13: Yes, Joe Kennedy and James Roosevelt together went to Scotland to get import rights on Scotch whiskey. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 12, 2009 @ 7:20 a.m.

Response to post #14: There is little doubt that the U.S. is declining as an economic power. Much of this is self-inflicted. I don't believe, however, that the dollar will be replaced as the world's currency any time soon. Decline takes a long time. Best, Don Bauder

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PistolPete Nov. 13, 2009 @ 11:48 a.m.

D'oh!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry, SD....that was pretty funny! :-D Score one for Burwell.

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SDaniels Nov. 13, 2009 @ 11:51 a.m.

No metaphor, no analogy, no fun. Really? You thought that was clever? Maybe you will miss Lou Dobbs after all, P.

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Don Bauder Nov. 12, 2009 @ 7:31 a.m.

Response to post #15: I haven't seen Moore's movie yet (I have seen his previous ones), but I intend to do so. You are absolutely correct: today, we have a form of corporate socialism. The government and big business/Wall Street are in bed together. (Some would call that fascism.) This is a long way from the Adam Smith form of capitalism that people speak of. Under the Adam Smith model, capitalists take RISKS. That's not true these days. Capitalists take risks and then run to government when their gambles don't pay off. The corporate/Wall Street lobbyists own the politicians, as they did in the late 1800s/early 1900s before Teddy Roosevelt and others effectuated reforms. The outrageous pay continues despite non-performance. I would love to see real, honest-to-goodness capitalism in this country and around the world. But we are a long way from that. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 12, 2009 @ 1:37 p.m.

Response to post #19: The media help the process along by inflating the picayune and ignoring the important. We don't connect dots as we should. Best, Don Bauder

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Burwell Nov. 12, 2009 @ 10:36 p.m.

I'm not sure that the Golden Rule is relevant. Think about it: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." That means you are thrusting your own desires and predilections on the other people.

My Golden Rule is: "Do unto others before they do unto you."

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Anon92107 Nov. 12, 2009 @ 2:14 a.m.

Response to post #6: I really don’t think that the way things have been going with aristocracies and the elite being politically enabled to fleece everyone else, in 1929, 2009 etc. that "The mentally meek shall inherit the earth." If so, it shall most certainly be a hell on earth that has been destroyed by the special interests that control both of our political parties. The biggest lesson in evolution to be learned is that the so-called “fittest” are taking corruption, greed and hate to unlivable levels.

If the “bully pulpit and a big stick” are “only a hope” then we are well and truly screwed because it ain’t going to happen as long as the republican party leaders dominate the democratic party leaders. Especially when the truth is that with democratic party leaders as friends, who needs enemies!?

And lots of luck with your theory of “Basically, change must come from the grass roots. People must pressure companies and politicians” especially because one bottom line is as you concluded “Concerned that politicians will listen to an enraged public, some companies could go straight. Don’t count on it.”

The real bottom line appears to be that our “reckless and incompetent” politicians in both parties are proving in Washington, Sacramento and San Diego every day that evolution can destroy life far easier that it can protect and improve life on earth, and the "mentally meek shall inherit the earth" that is being destroyed by the reckless and the incompetent that are accelerating the decline and fall of American Democracy.

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James_Wallerstedt Nov. 12, 2009 @ 6:31 a.m.

If you're interested in the topics Don has addressed in today's column and would like to experience a powerful audio-visual supplement, please consider watching Michael Moore's latest film, "Capitalism: A Love Story."

I've only watched one other Moore film. I recently saw "Capitalism: A Love Story" and consider it to be a powerful documentary, with the potential to help spur a new dialogue about what type of society and governance we really want.

It's important to distinguish between the type of free enterprise or "entrepreneurial capitalism" we want to encourage, and the many expressions of parasitic and socially destructive behavior which tend to characterize our world today; in terms of what Wall Street has become, and the revolving-door nature of our world's apex corporate and governmental sectors (including the supposed major federal "regulatory agencies" which, with few exceptions, are mainly outposts of corporate sector interest versus anything truly responsive to "the will of the People").

We need to return to forms of free enterprise and the raising of funds for public infrastructure (ie: policies and institutions related to taxation) that promote honest effort and social contribution; rearranging our affairs so that present high levels of corruption and parasitic behavior die out and are replaced by more constructive practice. The good news is that this is something that we can achieve, as a nation, during the next 5-10 years.

The starting point for developing the kind of major grassroots pressure and consensus that will be required to reinvent our institutional landscape along such lines, meanwhile, involves articles like this latest one from Don and (I would submit) this latest Michael Moore film.

To view a two-minute trailer and find local showtimes for "Capitalism: A Love Story," visit:

www.CapitalismaLoveStory.com

Finally, I would like to thank Don for his long-running advocacy of the very best of free enterprise possibilities.

His work has always reflected a brand of entrepreneurial capitalism in which honesty, hard work and social contribution remain pre-eminent. I hope he will experience a sense of satisfaction as we witness our larger society finally returning to these more worthwhile values.

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Anon92107 Nov. 12, 2009 @ 12:33 p.m.

Response to posts #15 & 19:

Well said summary by both of you.

Every day on the news we are watching an updated replay of the fall of the Roman Empire, starring corrupt politicians, greedy aristocracy and hatred of the common man who are not the same race, color and creed that we are.

Failed American Democracy by both political parties, plundering of the Wealth of America by Washington and Wall Street, hate, uncontrollable population, plus global warming destruction of our water and food supplies are far too many things to overcome already.

That is, unless Obama can figure a way to do something like walking on water to get everyone to pay attention to turning mankind around and really follow the Golden Rule so we can save humanity before all the tipping points topple.

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Don Bauder Nov. 12, 2009 @ 1:46 p.m.

Response to post #20: I'm not sure that the Golden Rule is relevant. Think about it: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." That means you are thrusting your own desires and predilections on the other people. Example: you love baseball, so you take the other person to a baseball game. But he/she may hate baseball. I think the Golden Rule should read as follows: "Do unto others as they desire to be done to themselves." If they prefer the movies to baseball, take them to the movies. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Nov. 12, 2009 @ 3:05 p.m.

Reality is MESSY. The problem comes in when a species who considers himself WISE (how's "Homo sapiens" for a moniker?), tries to CONTROL reality, hence, "organization," "management," and a thousand other fantasies that flesh is heir to.

DESTINY is a resolution of forces "equation" that finds a point between them. Our pet peeves and perambulations will never, in of themselves, "come true," but it is likely that something worse will, and something better will, on occasion. A wise species will select the superior over the inferior; a dumb one will insist upon excess. That is the route to hell in a handbasket, of course, but "Never give up. Never, never, NEVER give up!" --WC

OPTIMISM is the ONLY option!

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 12, 2009 @ 5:11 p.m.

Anon92107 is right in the fact that we are up to our eyeballs in problems, very large financial problems IMO.

But there ia always hope and always a way out, as long as you keep an open mind and try.

We will get out of this financial mess we are in. Mark my words Anon92107

We might not have any more public employee unions, or highly paid gov employees, or huge corporate tax breaks, or billionaires numbering in the hundreds-but we will do fine without all of that negativity!

Optimism as TWISTER says-Optimism!

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itsmechuck Nov. 13, 2009 @ 12:31 a.m.

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream started in a former downtown Burlington VT gas station. Their position on Executive Compensation was simple; No employee could be paid more than 5 times the lowest paid employee.

I can't accept "performance or retention bonuses" to executives when the company has failed. The people who drove the business into the ground don't deserve a Performance bonus, and a retention bonus is ludicrous. Why reward and retain, ewpecially nwhen this money is coming from you and I, the taxpayer(and our children and grandchildren). Their lowest paid employee could match that performance with a Ouija Board.

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or Nov. 13, 2009 @ 8:57 a.m.

post #34: "Yeah, but suppose you like S&M. Should you treat others if they did, too? Best, Don Bauder." Don, it's still the same thing. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" If you like S&M and you want to be treated that way by someone else, so you treat them that way first. You said Socrates and Epictetus "are making the Golden Rule mistake: thrusting one's own predilections on others." If you are treating someone the way you wish to be treated, isn't that the same thing? In effect saying I am doing this to you because I like it, so do the same to me? Isn't that "thrusting one's own predilections on others" Seems that way to me.

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Visduh Nov. 13, 2009 @ 9:25 a.m.

The wide-ranging philosophical discussion preceding this posting has been most provocative. But to get back to Don's headline question, I doubt that the feds, as in government and its quasi-public agencies, can turn this around. If you think that looking to the federal government for solutions, you will be endlessly disappointed. The fed "plate" is already overfull, and the government gags on every new role it assumes or has thrust upon it.

Actually, this matter of obscene CEO pay is a cultural one. Two generations ago the idea that some "rich" person could be paid several hundred times the pay of an average worker was virtually unthinkable. If anyone had attempted to draw a salary/bonus package of such magnitude, he/she would have been a pariah. If there was an enforcement agency, it was likely Wall Street. At that time, Wall Street was rewarding the long-term health of corporations, often at the expense of short term earnings and stock performance. Today just the opposite is the case. But the tide could turn again.

The impetus for such change can come from the grass roots, even if this succession of multi-millionaire US presidents and their unsuccessful opponents continues. Many opportunities to use the presidential bully pulpit have been lost. (How does a president who has a fortune of obscure origin tell a corporate CEO that he is taking too much pay? He can only do that if he is above reproach, and I cannot think of the last time we had such a person in the White House.)

I remain optimistic that this matter will turn around, and it may already be heading in the right direction. The mere fact that it is discussed in a publication like this one is a strong sign.

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Don Bauder Nov. 13, 2009 @ 9:27 a.m.

Response to post #41: The difference here is general versus specific. If what you mean by the Golden Rule is to make someone happy (even if misery is what makes him/her happy), then the Golden Rule can stand. But if you are talking in specifics, say, "I want to do unto you what I would have you do unto me," then you are locking that person into your predilections, be they baseball or S&M. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Nov. 13, 2009 @ 10:11 a.m.

Re: 24, 25, 29, 30, 36:

Optimism is not simplistic Polyannaism, any more than pessimism is restricted to thumb-sucking fetalism.

The last paragraph (24) provided a point of departure away from the first two, which were a bit more difficult to refute.

Beware the insignificance of the sound and fury!

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SDaniels Nov. 13, 2009 @ 11:10 a.m.

re:#15: That is a nice endorsement!

re: #28: "But I will fight to the death for your right to say that it is."

I have heard this hackneyed phrase multiple times on this site, but have yet to see a genu-whine duel ;)

re:#37: Burwell is not "thinking," he is "drinking." His Golden Rule is to avoid being caught peeing in the shower.

re:#47: "rode?" I think he is going to ride right out on this hysteria.

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Burwell Nov. 13, 2009 @ 11:45 a.m.

re:#37: Burwell is not "thinking," he is "drinking." His Golden Rule is to avoid being caught peeing in the shower. SDaniels ==============

She's out of control and getting worse I would advise her husband/boyfriend/girlfriend to give her a bitch whipping before the situation spirals out of control.

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or Nov. 13, 2009 @ 1:29 p.m.

response to # 43 Don, I must admit that I am truly suprised. Given numerous opportunities to respond, I have failed to elicit the response that I thought you, of all posters, would set forth. The golden rule is a principle, it's not an ideal. It doesn't replace regular moral norms. It isn't an infallible guide on which actions are right or wrong and it surely doesn't give all the answers. The best modern interpretation I've come across is this: "Treat others only in ways that you're willing to be treated in the same exact situation. To apply it, you'd imagine yourself in the exact place of the other person on the receiving end of the action. If you act in a given way toward another, and yet are unwilling to be treated that way in the same circumstances, then you violate the rule." But each religion has it's own interpretation. Buddhism :“Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” Udama-Varga, 5:18 Christianity :“All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” Matthew 7:12 Confucianism :“Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you.” Analects 15:23 Hinduism : “This is the sum of duty: do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.” Mahabharata 5:1517 Islam : “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” Sunnah Judaism : “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. That is the law: all the rest is commentary.” Talmud, Shabbat 31a Native American : “Respect for all life is the foundation.” The Great Law of Peace

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SDaniels Nov. 13, 2009 @ 4:11 p.m.

I'll drink to occam's earnestly organized odes, and Mr. Bauder's dashingly pithy brevity, and Burwell's kinky cruelty fetish--and--OH YEAH, maybe a toast or three to NOT having to vacate CNN every night around the same time, once that self-righteous little man starts whining about border security! One of those rounds is on me, Cuddles ;)

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Don Bauder Nov. 13, 2009 @ 4:45 p.m.

Response to post #57: One thinks Dobbs's departure is cause for celebration and the other thinks it's cause for mourning. Obviously, Dobbs has done his job. I always say the media industry is like the aerospace/defense industry: start a war and arm both sides. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 13, 2009 @ 4:49 p.m.

Response to post #58: After briefly scanning the reports of Dobbs's leaving, I got the sense that there are people like you: changing the channel when the man comes on. That may be a reason for the hasty departure. In TV, ratings are the name of the game. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 13, 2009 @ 5:09 p.m.

OH YEAH, maybe a toast or three to NOT having to vacate CNN every night around the same time, once that self-righteous little man starts whining about border security! One of those rounds is on me, Cuddles ;)

By SDaniels

That's it, this is WAR!

How DARE you soil thy hero's name!

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 13, 2009 @ 5:11 p.m.

Oh wait, SDaniels is one of those "open borders" propagandists, and cannot help herself.

So I take back my declaration of war on you SD, you have been pardoned.

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SDaniels Nov. 13, 2009 @ 5:23 p.m.

Why thank you, Puppy! Good to know the three-headed Cerberus of hell won't be preventing my crossings. ;) PS: I'm not certain about a total open border policy, and not sure why I am accused of being a propagandist, when I am so often sitting on the fence, looking from left to right and back, like the crossing guard always told us.

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Don Bauder Nov. 13, 2009 @ 8:34 p.m.

Response to post #54: I'm sorry, but most of those aphorisms have the same problem: they assume that "others" want to be treated the same way you do. But that's not so. I prefer this: "Do unto others as you believe they would prefer to be treated." Best, Don Bauder

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SDaniels Nov. 13, 2009 @ 9:21 p.m.

Mr. Bauder's blogs make perfect (and usually comfy) seating, from which to survey all that is planted firmly on either side. ;)

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Fred Williams Nov. 13, 2009 @ 9:27 p.m.

The golden rule is what ties everything together in this discussion.

As Occam so skillfully shows, it is common to every ethical system. This implies it's a universal principle for mankind. When it's broken, expect massive disapproval.

CEOs have broken the golden rule. They've arrogated unto themselves extraordinary wealth and resources, and cannot be bothered to share. They're clearly not doing for others what they've done for themselves.

Similarly, the US has become accustomed to being the world's preeminent power. Some of this was rightly earned, a little was unjustly gained, and a good amount of our respect and prestige worldwide was acquired by default because other countries do so much worse.

Dobbs and his migrant bashing ilk ignore the golden rule. They want access to the opportunities and wealth of America for themselves, and no one else.

The golden rule, as Don points out, requires empathy. If you cannot sympothise with your fellow human, how can you guess what would hurt or help them?

CEOs stuff their pockets while middle-class investors end up living in the back of their cars, and wealthy media personalities live in luxury while scorning the poor farm laborers shivering in tents in the bushes.

If that CEO were living in his car, he'd resent those who have the wealth and power to help but do nothing. Same if Mr. Dobbs somehow found himself penniless in Siberia hoping someone would give him a bit of work and a place to sleep, shivering in fear of local hotheads who might lynch him for being a funny talking foreigner stealing their jobs.

Empathy requires putting yourself in the shoes of others. It's something that we humans do so well it might be our primary evolutionary advantage over any other species. Empathy allows us to cooperate, reciprocate, and expand our "tribe".

Violating the golden rule is a repudiation of empathy, and breaking the rule requires punishment from the rest of the tribe.

CEOs and televisoin personalities have insulated themselves from the rest of us, living in gated communities with private security, avoiding the consequences of their action. There's good reason for them to be afraid. They know they're breaking our most basic code of conduct, the golden rule.

Since they've shown no empathy for the rest of us, we should have none for them. Perhaps there's a follow up to the golden rule:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, or they'll all end up hating you.

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or Nov. 13, 2009 @ 9:32 p.m.

response to 64 " I prefer this: "Do unto others as you believe they would prefer to be treated." " A good thought Don, but never the less, you're still making the assumption of having knowledge of anothers preferences. This might be possible if you know someone intimately. After 15+ yrs, I can say that about my gf; I'm sure you can as well about your wife and sons. But how many others can that be said about? How many others can you say you know well enough to believe you know how they wish to be treated. If you don't know them well enough, then how do you decide the manner in which you treat them. And that is my point. If you don't "know", then where does your decision come from? It comes from that which is most familiar to you, your own beliefs or experiences or whatever term(s) you choose to use. You guess how they want to be treated and sometimes that guess is predicated on how we would want to be treated if we were in their place. Like I said, it's a principle, not an ideal.

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Don Bauder Nov. 13, 2009 @ 10:55 p.m.

Response to post #68: Well, we sure get a lot of buzz from both sides of almost any issue. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 13, 2009 @ 10:56 p.m.

Response to post #69: No fertilizer is ever thrown around here. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 13, 2009 @ 11:04 p.m.

Response to post #70: There is much wisdom in this post. CEOs not only isolate themselves from their neighbors by living in gated communities, they isolate themselves from their own employees by working in aeries with their own private elevators, completely shut off from those who could give them good feedback. That is why so many are doing such a dismal job. They don't listen to anybody -- except the obsequious compensation consultant who tells them they are really worth $15 million a year because the CEO of a competitor is getting $14.5 million. Wall Street moguls are the worst in this regard. They cannot understand why anyone should care about their earnings of $100 million a year, even if the government had to bail them out of their stupid decisions. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 13, 2009 @ 11:10 p.m.

Response to post #71: A sensitive person, alert to the signals that people give off, can make an educated guess about how another wants to be treated. Chances are, that educated guess is closer to the mark than transferring one's own likes and dislikes to that other person. Incidentally, con artists often have an uncanny ability to size up what a person wants to hear, and feed that person a line that resonates. So many sociopaths have incredibly sensitive antennae. Best, Don Bauder

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JF Nov. 14, 2009 @ 8:50 a.m.

They don't listen to anybody..

Thus failing the Cardinal Rule, "Always listen to the guy on the ground".

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 14, 2009 @ 9:20 a.m.

Dobbs and his migrant bashing ilk ignore the golden rule. They want access to the opportunities and wealth of America for themselves, and no one else.

The golden rule, as Don points out, requires empathy. If you cannot sympothise with your fellow human, how can you guess what would hurt or help them?

Is it wrong to put your country and fellow countrymen ahead of those from other countries? Like you would put your family ahead of a stranger on the street?

Shouldn't those other countries get THEIR house in order and provide for THEIR citizens???

It has nothing to do with empathy-because this country is by far the most giving and charitable on the earth.

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Don Bauder Nov. 14, 2009 @ 4:52 p.m.

Response to post #76: During the Civil War, the privates on the North or South (don't recall which), informed their officers that trains were coming. They put their ears to the tracks and could feel the rumblings. But the officers thought they could learn nothing from the enlisted personnel who, of course, were correct. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 14, 2009 @ 4:57 p.m.

Response to post #77: One reason that migrants -- legal and otherwise -- are in this country is that they are willing to take difficult and low-paying jobs that Americans look down on. Have you ever thought what food prices would be if the crops weren't harvested by such low-cost labor? If the nation really wanted to crack down on illegal migrants, we would arrest and jail the employers who hire them. That won't happen. Similarly, we spray and kill drug crops in Colombia, but we won't do it in Humboldt. Best, Don Bauder

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MsGrant Nov. 15, 2009 @ 3:32 p.m.

Food prices are low because of corn production AND low-cost labor. Back to your original point - "Who Moved My Soap?: The CEO's Guide to Surviving Prison" by Andy Borowitz should give you a couple of laughs.

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Don Bauder Nov. 15, 2009 @ 3:43 p.m.

Response to post #80: It certainly has a titillating title. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 15, 2009 @ 5:46 p.m.

One reason that migrants -- legal and otherwise -- are in this country is that they are willing to take difficult and low-paying jobs that Americans look down on. Have you ever thought what food prices would be if the crops weren't harvested by such low-cost labor?

By dbauder

Don, with all due respect, ILLEGAL immigrants are not taking jobs Americans won't do or take. The construction industry and hospitality industry are perfect examples of jobs that were once dominated by Americans, but now are dominated by illegal immigrants who will do the work for minimum wage and even less(off the books in many of these jobs).

The ONLY reason Americans are not doing these jobs is because the owners won't pay a fair market wage-and instead take advantage of illegal immigrants by paying below market and below minimum wages off the books.

I totally disagree with your comment that American will not do these jobs. Will we have to pay a little built more-maybe we will, but we will also save money because we will have less people using social service programs-so we may pay more in one area while at the same time saving money in another area-balancing out the effect.

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Don Bauder Nov. 15, 2009 @ 10:30 p.m.

Response to post #82: I think that buttresses my point, actually. Americans won't take the jobs because the pay is below market, below minimum wage -- and probably off the books. If staggering numbers of Americans are truly jobless, and they are, they should take these jobs. Again, the people who should be thrown in jail are the employers who do this hiring. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 16, 2009 @ 11:05 a.m.

Don, the employers need to follow the law and pay at least minimum wage. If they cannot find people to work at the minimum wage (which I HIGHLY doubt) then they need to pay more for the work.

You're making the same specious argument Microsoft makes annually when they want unlimited H-1b visa's for Indian engineers. They want these foreign employees not because Americans refuse to do the work (or in MS's case they claim there are not enough to do the work), but because they want to pay the foriegn workforce less, under cutting the American worker.

By allowing third world workers to come in and compete with Americans on American soilis simply not fair. I do think that today you could find plenty of Americans who would work the argi business fields.

Yes, MS and some of the Argi businesses will have to pay a market wage for employees-but that si a good thing in my book.

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Ponzi Nov. 21, 2009 @ 10:37 a.m.

Surfpuppy and I have some common ground. I complete abhor the H1-B visa program because it is bloated, corrupted and a fraud. The employers claim they “cannot find workers” when in fact they don’t complete the sentence.

“They cannot find workers who will work for half of the wage they used to pay Americans.”

There is so much fraud in the H-1B program. I have personally witnessed it in the workplace as both a colleague of Chinese and Indian H1-B workers but also as a division manager over them. I leaner din management it came down to money. They use the H1-B’s to dilute the wages and they are no different that employers hiring illegal immigrants except H-1B’s are government sanctioned.

There is rampant fraud. Falsified degrees and transcripts tops the list. Almost 25% are using exaggerated and untruthful education and experience on their applications. I worked with a person who had “two masters degrees” at a large engineering firm in the 1990’s. She was so under-qualified the company transferred her to the data processing department where they began training her in HTML! A monkey can learn HTML and we should not have been training anyone on an H-1B, we should have been training an American. I could go on about at least another dozen “case studies” I encountered, but you cannot appreciate the unfairness, corruption and politics involved unless you witness it first-hand.

As long as the United States has a 10% unemployment rate, there should be NO H-1B program and zero people being allowed to immigrate here. We have too many people and too few jobs. We only make our domestic problems worse when we keep permitting cheap desperate third world labor to flood our nation.

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Don Bauder Nov. 22, 2009 @ 12:13 a.m.

Response to post #84: I read that Arizona nailed an employer of illegals -- the first use of a law that has been on the books for awahile. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 22, 2009 @ 12:17 a.m.

Response to post #85: There is no question that this program is a result of the same mentality deeply inculcated in American business: profits first, one's own country last. Best, Don Bauder

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