One Half of the Correction
Now events in France are beginning to look a bit more like a logical social correction:
French workers burned tires, marched on the presidential palace and held a manager of U.S. manufacturer 3M hostage Wednesday as anger mounted over job cuts and executive bonuses.
Rising public outrage at employers on both sides of the Atlantic has been triggered by executives cashing in bonus checks even as their companies were kept afloat with billions of euros (dollars) in taxpayers’ money and unemployment soars.
The hostage taking borders on the extreme (not crossing over, I should note, because it appears more a symbolic inconvenience than an actual threat), but this is how societies correct themselves when they get too far out of whack. Of course, the longer the correction remains unheeded, the more extreme the measures become. Taking an eye-popping bonus is still a long way from throwing a father a coin after you’ve trampled his son with your horse-drawn carriage, and in part because of technology, I don’t think we’ll get to the point of the French Revolution again.
Still, we should take a lesson from history and resist the urge to codify the social reaction within the government, as the pendulum will merely continue to swing. Rather, we should back off a bit and permit market corrections to do as they ought before emotions burst the market’s boundaries. Let utter bankruptcy and shame be the correction for greedy corporate types, and leave the hostage taking to terrorists.