Common Sense

UK taxpayers aren't happy shareholders

People shamed bank CEO out of getting bonus


Just because you can't order 'em, you "can" shame 'em.

Without so much as raising a regulatory arm...

The U.K. government just succeeded in making sure a bank CEO there "didn't" get his bonus.

Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Stephen Hester passing on collecting a 1.5 million dollar cash payment.

"Technically," he was due the money.

"Ethically," folks across the pond thought it beyond arrogant if he collected the money.

That's because Royal Bank of Scotland is still royally on the hook to the government.

U.K. taxpayers still own a majority stake in the bank, and let's just say they're not happy shareholders.

So imagine their surprise when they heard Mr. Hester was due a bonus, for little more than breathing.

They started fuming.

Now the government could have come down hard and ordered Mr. Hester not to take the money.

Sort of the way the White House conducts business here…

Only in the case of bailed out automakers, it goes so far as to throw the boss out and replace him with green technology-friendly stooges who all but do the administration's bidding.

Think Volts. And you've got a good picture of "our" government dolts.

But I digress…because my point is not to judge whether the government has a role in taking over businesses. I don't think it does.

My point is when it does, it needn't stomp its feet to get its way, which in Britain’s case, it does not.

That's the difference between over there and over here.

Oddly, they get capitalism and moralism.

And the simple power of persuasion.

And the not so subtle difference between ordering folks to change their ways, and providing the environment that gets them to change their ways...themselves...