Bonuses will be prohibited for executives being hired, those leaving, and for those present when a company is taken over. Pension funds holding stock in a company will be required to take part in these compensation votes. Violation of the new rules can be punished by fines worth up to six years of salary and prison sentences of up to three years. These requirements will be written into the Swiss constitution. In short, the Swiss want revolutionary change in the manner by which the modern European (and implicitly, American) corporation is managed, and in how it distributes its funds. This is a demand based on morality.
A majority of 68 percent of those voting in all the Swiss cantons approved this initiative. The Swiss citizenry, in short, is very angry about the current practices of Swiss corporations and financial institutions, even though the country is scarcely noted for past criticism of high finance and the practices prevailing in the international economy.
The Swiss are not the only ones angry at the pay practices of globalized capitalism.
The Commission has ruled that all bankers and banking institutions anywhere within the EU, and also -- here comes the knockout punch -- all those executives working for EU-based banks worldwide, must have the bonuses they pay or receive capped at no more than existing annual salaries. This limit can be waived only if the bank's shareholders agree, and then only to the level of double the executive's current salary.
For a normal human being working in a normal enterprise, bonuses are usually connected to meritorious service. They are not a plutocratic competition in ego-display by a limited number of the very rich.
Today's rich, though, are different from you and me. An executive's pay sheet may identify bonuses as merited supplements to salaries, and stock option assignments and other monetary and material rewards as essential to keeping an immensely important individual in the company, preventing him or her from taking their invaluable talents elsewhere, but this is part of the game played by the new corporate rich. (The individual may actually be getting fired, and the money greases the exit.)
You can imagine how this draft EU law on banker compensation has been received in the
It is difficult to see how
The conventional political and journalists' judgment today is that
This greed has caused moral revulsion throughout the Western world -- including in
America's Puritan forefathers were Calvinist; their "errand into the wilderness" had been conceived as a re-enactment of the exodus of the Hebrews from Egyptian bondage and their Biblical covenant with God was understood as to build a new heaven and new earth. Until the American Revolution, their Presbyterian church, with its millenarian theology, provided the only organized link among the separate colonies.
However, the austere and frightening theology of Calvinist predestination and "irresistible grace" changed in America due to the influence of the Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609). He argued that for hard-working men and women, predestination could be bestowed, and success and riches be seen as evidence of Heavenly Election. American Protestantism has always respected business success and wealth.
But this? The tea party movement, whatever its ideological aberrations, was seen in 2010 as a people's revolt against big and intrusive American government, supposed "free riders," welfare queens,
It was much more. It was a protest against secular and cosmopolitan forces in America and an affirmation of a traditional American religious culture. But what was not seen then was that it was an upsurge by America's outsiders or abandoned: the precarious or jobless American poor and lower middle class, protesting globalization, American industry shipped abroad, American deindustrialization, American employment shipped to
All this while the rich get greedier.
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