Improve the economy: Get rid of low performers

By Paul Cruse III

Needless to say, the economy is not in the best shape. Job loss has sky-rocketed; people are still losing their homes and the stock-market is doing worse than a blind man at a shooting range. Even college students are starting to feel the effects of this economic downturn. Students are losing scholarships and loans; companies aren’t hiring and those lucky enough to receive job and internship offers are hoping they don’t get revoked.

But while the rest of us are struggling, some people are still making bonuses and spending large amounts of money on very luxurious things. The ironic part is that the same people making and spending tons of money are also begging the government for a bailout.

There is no need to go down the list of who spent what and how much it cost; all that information can be easily found using popular means. But what does need to be discussed is how these people justified their luxurious spending and how the government can stop and/or punish them.

Some argue that bonuses are needed to keep the best and brightest in the financial market happy and working. They argue that without these bonuses it is very likely that these investors and stock market workers will find work elsewhere. I say let them leave! Bonuses are supposed to be given out to people who have done good work, not those who have lost millions of dollars. Given these people bonuses would be like giving college kids credit for classes they failed and then awarding them a scholarship for having low GPAs.

Additionally, if these people are considered the “best and brightest,” I really feel sorry for the American financial sector. We have hit one of the worst economic recession in 50 years, and Americans are supposed to consider those who were a major cause of the recession, best or bright? Maybe having these people leave would be the best thing for Wall Street. Getting rid of these low performers, in exchange for “new blood,” might actually do something to improve the economy.

Many critics say these companies employ thousands, and to let these companies go under would only worsen our predicament. I agree, but I can’t help but feel a little bitter that these companies are allowed to stay in business. Although this would never happen, my perfect solution would be to keep the companies and their middle level managers and get rid of the executives. Hire new executives from inside the companies and hope that the change in leadership will spark some new ideas and better judgement.

Those same critics say that giving strict restrictions on bailout money would diminish the capitalist spirit and deter innovation. But the capitalist spirit has gotten us in the rut we are in now. It might be nice to be a financial market that is able to look past their own capitalistic greed and try to work for what will help the country as well.

By all means, I support making money and by no means is that implying that there should be salary caps or any other similar socialist-type limits; what I am saying is that people in these corporations should act more responsible. There is a misconception that one is not able to work for both himself and the greater good. Most people think that one needs to sacrifice their own well being in exchange for the collective good. This does not have to be the case.

A notable idea would be to give bonuses not just for high profits in tangible assets but also for things such as preserving the environment, protecting your employees and making smart investments.

At the end of the day, the situation we are in now is not solely Wall Street’s fault. We are also to blame; Americans have made it normal for people to live outside their means. Taking out sub-prime loans for houses and cars we can’t afford, using our credit cards when we know there isn’t money in the bank to support out purchase and just not having basic understanding of how to maintain balanced home finances.

Regardless of what the American consumer has done, no one can deny that financial sector needs to make some major changes before our economy can get back on track. I just hope that they change quickly before irreparable damage occurs.

Paul is a senior in computer and political science, and he missed the Grammys.