The Wall Street Journal reports White House Set to Appoint a Pay Czar:
The Obama administration plans to appoint a “Special Master for Compensation” to ensure that companies receiving federal bailout funds are abiding by executive-pay guidelines, according to people familiar with the matter.
The administration is expected to name Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw the federal government’s compensation fund for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, to act as a pay czar for the Treasury Department, these people said.
Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw payouts to 9/11 victims, will keep tabs on executive pay at companies in bailout.
Mr. Feinberg’s appointment could be announced as early as next week, when the administration is expected to release executive-compensation guidelines for firms receiving aid from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Those companies, which include banks, insurers and auto makers, are subject to a host of compensation restrictions imposed by the Bush and Obama administrations and by Congress. . . .
The government is also pursuing a separate revamping of financial-sector rules that could change industry compensation practices more broadly. For instance, the Federal Reserve is considering rules that would curb banks’ ability to pay employees in a way that would threaten the “safety and soundness” of the bank. . . .
Mr. Feinberg will report to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, but he is expected to have wide discretion on how the rules should be interpreted. Firms likely won’t be able to appeal decisions that Mr. Feinberg makes to Mr. Geithner, according to people familiar with the matter.
What interests me–in addition to more top-down control of the economy and of individual companies by the federal government and more repudiation of free market economics–is the language: “Pay Czar” speaks for itself, but having Czars for this thing or that thing–with the connotation of Russia’s absolute rulers–has been around a while. But “Special MASTER”? Does anyone recall another government or bureaucratic official that we have to call MASTER? The very language, by which we think, is getting totalitarian.
As for the central issue, our Master will focus on companies that have taken bailout money, but notice that the administration is contemplating putting limits on salaries in other businesses too–banks as part of new financial regulations the government is working on, but under the new statist economic policies, why shouldn’t the government tell every industry how it can pay its employees?