Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Barack the Human Shield

I just had occasion to quote, again, Ron Suskind's account (via) of President Obama's meeting with the heads of thirteen major banks early in his presidency.  I used it to point up that contrary to certain pundits' claim that Obama hasn't "embraced CEOs," Obama offered himself to them as a human shield:
"My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks."

It was an attention grabber, no doubt, especially that carefully chosen last word.

But then Obama's flat tone turned to one of support, even sympathy. "You guys have an acute public relations problem that's turning into a political problem," he said. "And I want to help. But you need to show that you get that this is a crisis and that everyone has to make some sacrifices."

According to one of the participants, he then said, "I'm not out there to go after you. I'm protecting you. But if I'm going to shield you from public and congressional anger, you have to give me something to work with on these issues of compensation."
What a guy.  Makes you cry.  But I didn't.

Anyway, I noticed something else a bit earlier in the passage:
The CEOs went into their traditional stance [on compensation]: "It's almost impossible to set caps; it's never worked, and you lose your best people," said one. "We're competing for talent on an international market," said another.
If big corporations are competing for talent on an international market, shouldn't that drive compensation down?  Isn't that why they look for labor overseas?  Like this:

Just saying.