• on a comment on "Unconscionable" over 5 years ago

    No, I suspect they would stay in their jobs and sue.

  • on a comment on "Unconscionable" over 5 years ago

    Sounds good on paper, but how do you police that?  Where are the resources, what is the method you use?  Sure, the business could go to the employee and say "We need to renegotiate" and the employee says "I don't care, I have a job that comes with certain obligations on your part, and I like it, and I'm not re-opening negotiations."

    By the way, at-will employment doesn't help you here.  You could fire anyone who objects, but firing someone to avoid paying their bonus is often considered wrongful discharge at state levels.

    Are you going to have the IRS or Treasury have agents come in and interview everyone who receives a bonus?  Find hundreds of contract lawyers to review contracts?  By the time you identify an enforcement mechanism, you may as well move on with your life and use that money in a more stimulative fashion.

    In addition to that, some of these bonuses that came through were for 2008 obligations, and nobody has any incentive to re-open that.  The litigation that would result would be more expensive than paying the bonuses.  We need to face reality here.

    I don't disagree that the current situation is untenable, but we need to move forward rather than dwell on how we can rectify the past.  Moving forward, Congress and/or the Treasury can explicitly dictate what terms a company may offer in an employment contract, which is what's going on.  Much easier to deal with this before the contract was entered into, and much more effective.  Not only that, renegotiating agreements in this climate will unfortunately be very easy - nobody wants to be out of a job.  Good for people complaining about executive compensation, bad for Unions who will be taking it in the shorts.

  • on a comment on "Unconscionable" over 5 years ago

    Yeah, I agree - it's not that the ceiling is too high, it's that the floor is too low. :(  We would do better to use this period to push through single-payer healthcare, much like FDR pushed through his social programs in the context of the Depression.

  • on a comment on "Unconscionable" over 5 years ago

    I'm not a contracts person, but aren't those standards applied using the facts as they existed when the contracts were entered into?  Serious question, contract law not being my favorite domain, I'll put it that way ;p.

    Although I guess now that I dig through my poor brain, perhaps this would be a good place to apply impracticability of performance.  Don't mind me whilst I think out loud.

  • comment on a post "Unconscionable" over 5 years ago

    I join you in your outrage, but it sure looks like, as I've seen, these bonuses were contractually obligated.  Terrible contracts, like making a contract to pay $1,000 for a bag of potato chips, but when made between competent parties, a perfectly valid contract.  I guess I fear that if Democrats go at this too much but then don't do anything about it (they can't, it looks like), won't that just lead to a populist backlash against Dems?

    I would love to see financial firms be more heavily regulated with regards to compensation moving forward - there is no logical reason for the bulk of these people's compensation to be paid in "bonuses."  It ceases to be a bonus when it's an expected part of your compensation.  It seems like these firms are having trouble differentiating between "bonuses" and "commissions" if you ask me, but I guess the problem is that a commission is tied to a measurable goal but, in the twisted financial world, a bonus is merely tied to whether or not they like you.

  • comment on a post Please, spare us from the melodramatic populism over 5 years ago

    The underlying problem here is that the bonuses appear to be required by contract.  That is a huge problem, insomuch as the contracts ought not have been made to start with, but Geithner and Summers are not Federal bankruptcy judges and they do not have the right to modify contracts.  They are within their rights to demand different terms for new contracts, but unfortunately the contracts as they stand are enforceable.

    I feel like it's too early to judge Geithner and Summers yet.  As a former Bostonian, I'm not a fan of Summers as a person - he's brash, arrogant, and doesn't seem to be the best person in New England to be around.  But I'm willing to give this Administration some time to see how they deal with this circus.  They have inherited many of these problems, including the first bailout and AIG's contracts, and there is no elegant solution to AIG.  We are in many ways in uncharted waters here.

  • comment on a post OK-Sen: Is Tom Coburn Retiring? over 5 years ago

    Given that it's Oklahoma, doesn't he just need to put his name on the ballot with an "R" next to it, unless he gets into a scandal?

  • It cuts both ways... someday another party is going to be in the WH again.  To me this looks like one of the few truly bipartisan amendments out there.  Maybe I'm overstating it, but this is the first viable Constitutional amendment I've seen in my lifetime.

  • comment on a post To Change the Middle East, Invest in Education over 5 years ago

    Absolutely right.  It's such a shame - Islamic study is the source of so much modern knowledge (math, medicine, philosophy), but in the last 100 years that's been stifled by governments who are afraid of knowledge out of a realization that the Mubaraks and Bashirs of the world will not survive an educated populace.

  • I'm not sure I disagree.  "Worst President" is so subjective as to be useless.  Having said that, by way of comparison, Truman left office with terrible approval ratings and was later rehabilitated as people realized the challenges he faced.  I don't think that's going to happen here.  Truman made the best of bad situations and was essentially an early victim of the now-discredited red scares; Bush just made bad situations worse.

  • Well, there's no clear process outlined yet, the 120 day period is going to be time for the Obama administration to review classified information that they haven't had access to before now, and to develop a plan.  Some of them were in the wrong place at the wrong time, some of them were potentially bit-rate fighters who should have been taken as POW's, and some of them were definitely people who should be tried, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and some of his companions, who have already credibly claimed responsibility for planning all sorts of Al Qaeda attacks.

    I think Obama will be charging the people who need charged, releasing the people who can be released to their home countries, and the hard part will probably be resettling the people who can't be resettled to their home countries (e.g. the people who should have been called POW's).

  • comment on a post A Proportioned war over 5 years ago

    Ignoring the Israeli/Palestinian aspect of your post, your lack of knowledge on this point is alarming:

    In Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda attacked us, yet we started a war with Afghanistan who never did anything to us

    At the time, Al-Qaeda was at best a "guest" of the Taliban and at worst simply in agency with the Taliban; contemporaneously, the Taliban was the central government of Afghanistan as of 2001.  Agree or disagree with the war, you seem to lack knowledge of this fact.

  • comment on a post President Obama Halts Gitmo War Crimes Tribunals over 5 years ago

    Now THIS is change we can believe in.

    I've been an Obama supporter since '04, but I've also always been a pragmatist that understands that institutions have a certain majestic inertia to them, so to see Rahm's memo and this on the first day... well, not to overuse the word, but I have a lot of hope for the next year.

    Small steps, but the ink's not even dry on the papers...

    Speaking from a legal perspective, I'm all about closing Guantánamo, but doing it without having a plan for the people there would be a bad choice, would cause chaos.  Bringing them within unquestioned US jurisdiction (e.g. housing them temporarily in Florida or somesuch, even in a Federal prison in the States) is not a good idea if the final plan is going to be to release them to a European or other willing/appropriate country, so that's going to take some diplomatic steps before it really moves.  It's telling that he asked for 120 days rather than, say, 180 days or longer - implies to me that he has a game-plan with a quick turnaround.

  • on a comment on A Man of the People over 5 years ago

    I was rather uncomfortable with that phrasing as well... I know it wasn't intentioned badly but the use of the word "crippled" in this context is rather tone-deaf, and Roosevelt is actually known for his travels, including a fairly unusual plane flight to the 1932 DNC.

  • I did not believe him when he says he is against gay marriage

    That's how I feel, and living in CA, I read a lot of his comments on Prop 8.  I believe that, in his heart, he is probably either for gay marriage or nearly there.  I'm not blind, I wish he had come out saying that in the campaign, but if there is a wider strategy here, more power to him.  If time proves he backed off for political reasons, not so cool.

    Although honestly, even if he really did have a "change of heart" in the wrong direction, he's still the most pro-LGBT rights president we'll have ever had.


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