Immorality and greed in Alberta

Immorality and greed by B. P. Schimke, April 16, 2009, East Central Review Alberta
The majority of Albertans just want to work hard, make a decent living, give their children good opportunities for the future and have some fun. But do we really have a fighting chance with a corporate world and governments gone mad with unconscionable acts of immoral behaviour and greed? When you finish reading the article ‘Bonuses, Pay Raises and Severance Packages’ in this issue expect your blood pressure to boil, again. What happened on Wall Street is happening right here in our back yard, albeit on a slightly smaller scale.  Let’s think about what a government bureaucrat does to earn a bonus?

Senior Alberta Justice officials received $15 million in “achievement bonuses” over the last three years. What in the world do they do to get a bonus? Did they get extra bonuses for prosecuting and persecuting small businessmen like Ray Strom, who had the audacity to take on Big Oil?

How does a senior bureaucrat in charge of Social Services get an achievement bonus? Could it be that he comes in under budget even though under his watch there is a 20 per cent increase in homelessness or child abuse [and more in child deaths] or gambling addictions? What about a senior bureaucrat in Seniors Services? Maybe someone got a big “achievement bonus” for coming up with the new “drug strategy” where middle-class seniors will pay an additional $3 million dollars more in drug costs in 2010? These are all hypotheses but just ask yourself, what do our government employees do to earn an achievement bonus? Whether we like it or not most programs run by the government have qualitative outcomes, not quantitative.

Then there are our corporate boys. When times were good we were told, “these people deserve their big salaries, bonuses and share options because it is “they” who are responsible for making us wealthier. Now, when the economy collapses, we’ve told these bonuses and share options are necessary either because (a.) we need to retain these geniuses so that they can get us out of these tough times, or (b.) we’re legally obligated to pay out even though companies are reporting huge losses. Bonuses and share options are the major reasons why capitalism and free enterprise has gone amok. Bonuses and share options encouraged the guys on top to make bad decisions so that they personally would keep getting financially rewarded.

So what happens when corporate profits go south. Those in charge start to manipulate the results. Voila, the economic crash the world is enjoying today.

It is completely illegal for a hockey player to bet on or against his team, but in business and government, bonuses do exactly that. When you really think about it, business executives were manipulating their own performance results so that they would personally benefit and the investors and public enjoyed the ride until the manipulation could no longer be sustained and the “house of cards” imploded.

We have lost the fundamental principles of free enterprise . . . hard work, honesty and community. … It’s time we get back to paying an executive, or bureaucrat or employee what the job is worth. And if that is $15 million a year, then pay it. If that person doesn’t perform, then fire him. Let’s stop the nonsense of bonuses, share options and severance packages. All of them just breed me-ism and corruption.

Bonuses. Pay raises. Severance packages by B. P. Schimke, April 16, 2009, East Central Review Alberta 
Alberta Health Services Health Minister, Ron Liepert has given the members and chairman of the year-old health superboard, remuneration increases of 92 per cent to 105 per cent.

Ken Hughes, board chairman of Alberta Health Services will now earn a salary of $75,000 a year. In addition, Hughes can earn an additional $48,000 per year by holding at least four public meetings a month. His maximum remuneration can now be $123,000 up from $60,000.

Board members will earn $60,000 a year and have the potential of earning an additional $36,000 through meetings. Their maximum remuneration is now $96,000 up from $50,000.

Alberta Government
Senior bureaucrats were paid an additional $40 million in bonuses in 2007-08 and more than $110 million in the past three years. … It is argued that bonuses are necessary to retain quality managers. Deputy ministers receiving these achievement bonuses were paid $253,668 in salaries this fiscal year and are looking at an increase to $264,576 on April 1sth, 2009.

Senior political appointees in the premier’s office were also eligible for bonuses.

Nortel Networks Corp.
Nortel although under bankruptcy protection and in the process of laying off thousands of employees, will pay a combined $7.3 million US to eight top-level managers in Canada and the United States. The company argued before the Courts that these retention bonuses were necessary to keep key personnel from leaving the company as it undergoes court-protected restructuring.

Quasi-Judicial Boards in Alberta
Since 2005, there has been automatic bonuses awarded to heads of quasi-judicial panels and panel members who sit on boards such as the Energy Resources Compensation Board and the Alberta Utilities Commission. Heads of these boards receive an extra $28,000 to $38,000 on top of their salaries that range from $188,700 to $253,668.  [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to:

The Ray Strom Decision A Level Field

Property rights Holey Land

Ray Strom Decision

Showdown with Big Oil, There’s a battle brewing out there, People are getting right ticked off ]

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