Bonus payments: A special form of greed?!

GeizGreed is nowadays most often associated with money and courtesy to the recession, now mainly with bankers. A simple definition of greed is that those who are greedy want more of what they already have. And studying ethics, we know that greed is a vice and therefore wrong.  Since the recession bankers are portrayed as greedy and as acting against their clients, and therefore against society at large. For the past weeks a new “problem” in the world of banking has cropped up: the payment of bonus payments. By definition bonuses are paid for extraordinary work. If employees really outdid themselves, they receive a special reward. Only that this definition does not seem to be valid anymore. Bonuses have become a part of employment contracts and of employment deals. They are seen as something the employee is entitled to. Therefore bonuses seem to bring about a new form of greed. It is not only greed about the money it seems, but also about the gratification. Bonuses are more than sheer payments, they give the employee perceived job-security. But the problem now is that if bonuses are paid to bankers from banks that have received money from the government, that same government de facto gratifies bankers for making mistakes in the first place. The clients that were mistreated are, via their tax money, now rewarding the bankers. The bankers on the other hand claim that they earned the bonuses and will be motivated to work more successfully, which is then beneficial for the client. It is a vicious cycle!?!

A times article dealing with the bailout is here, and a whole plethora of articles about the topic at large is here.

$1.99 - small Business Ethics: An Overview
By Jeffrey Moriarty, Bowling Green State University
(Vol. 3, August 2008)
Philosophy Compass

Author: the medical philosopher

I am a philosopher of science with the main focus on philosophy of medicine. I write about evidence based medicine, medical research versus medical practice, ethics in medicine and why medicine needs to be patient centred and how we can achieve that.

One thought on “Bonus payments: A special form of greed?!”

  1. While I agree with these statements, I would like to add a few of my own. Greed is the root of the problem here, that much we all agree on. The solution to this problem is where most people get off track. The banks are telling the government what they will and will not accept in the way of regulations. If this is to be the new standard, then we should all tell the government we aren’t paying any more taxes. It’s the same principle. If Washington is that powerless then who are they to demand anything of any one? The reason the banks are writing their own regulations is simple; the people who have the power to stop them are the same people who benifit from the huge profits taken by greedy banks. No change will ever take place in this country till a grass-roots movement demands reform. Not just reform of the banking system, but of commerce and government also. If a company tries to influence a Senator, both should be jailed. If a company takes tax dollars because of it’s mistakes, that company no longer has a right to self-govern; it becomes a co-op. If a business takes federal dollars in the form of a bailout, the CEO’s should be paid wages based on the national average of ALL working tax-payers. The common man could care less if it seems demeaning to the ultra-wealthy, let them tell their family they are homeless because they screwed up, it’s what we have to do. The perception seems to be that we must protect the wealthy to protect the economy, that is utter nonesense. If a Wall Street tycoon goes bankrupt, some enterprising new person will gain from his loss, the money is still in the system, the business just moves a few doors down. I could go on for weeks on this soapbox but I think most sane people can see the logic here.

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