Posted March 12, 2013 at 8:00 am, in From the USW International President
The U.S. Attorney last week confirmed Americans’ fears about Wall Street. The banks, Eric Holder said, were not just too big to fail, they were also too big to jail.
That means bankers operate beyond the pale, outside the historical fence line encircling civil society. Past the pale is where barbarians resided, returning regularly to rampage. These days, bankers operate from beyond the pale, raiding civilization with impunity.
Unlike vulnerable ancient villages, however, the United States has considerable power over these banker barbarians. Banks, after all, are nothing but corporations. Corporations are legal constructs that citizens have the right to rebuild to properly serve society. European countries began doing that last week. Their first steps included limiting banker bonuses and giving shareholders binding say on CEO pay.
It started on Sunday, March 3 when the Swiss voted to grant to those who own corporations – the shareholders – the right to determine executives’ and directors’ pay. In addition, the referendum outlawed golden handshakes and golden parachutes. These are massive handouts to corporate executives – like the $78 million that Swiss-based healthcare products corporation Novartis proposed as a goodbye gift for CEO Daniel Vasella.
Nationwide outrage scuttled Vasella’s windfall and withered referendum opponents. The measure, called the Minder Initiative after its author Thomas Minder, passed with 68 percent of the vote. Even before Vasella, the Swiss were annoyed that the country’s biggest bank, UBS, had to be bailed out and that another huge bank, Credit Suisse, gave its CEO $76 million in shares in 2010. (more…)