My interest in this matter is as an example of how little we are free or democratic. Bankers and financiers of all kinds don’t deserve their salaries,let alone the obscene bonuses that render full democracy impossible and take the rest of us down the road to serfdom.
The argument is clouded from the start by our legal systems which make this wrong a “right”.
The real argument should be about whether we can have full democracy and have the highly disproportionate wealth such “earnings” create. My view is this is impossible so the “earnings” should be. Although this may look crassly naive, the view can be supported. The problem is that we are ideologically scared of a free and equal society and cannot have rational debate. This condition of being ideologically scared is not simply a matter of propaganda and is linked to our condition as social animals. So I would look first not at bankers and sports stars but mice.
Social mice, even in good times, live highly subordinate lives under a male king who keeps the rest in penury. If we take a subordinate male out of this condition, feed it up and train it to kill a string of palooka mice, it will then challenge the old king, kill the sod and become just the same type of king itself. The apparent dominance skills of the old king turn out not to be in short supply, but maintained by hierarchy (being ideologically scared). I wrap ideology with genetics and the environment here and suggest we need to now more on this for social design. We should not be looking for genetic determinism, but how to overcome it. We need a much wider view of these animal matters than I have space for here.
In considering banker bonuses and such, we tend to argument based on wads of assumptions about pay, reward, motivation, innovation, fairness and more that may well just be a load of old fables rather than any scientific base. People can argue (and have) for centuries about notions like the existence of god when the truth is we can’t establish any such entity. I suspect our general understanding of how the world works is based on the authority of talking snakes too.
When we talk of a banker bonus, I hear only silence on what such payouts and consequent accumulations of wealth mean for the rest of us. For the payments to be worth anything, they must force the rest of us to deliver something and they also render the recipients to this welfare. Many more questions arise, such as the opportunity costs of making these payments and, indeed, those of having a system in which they are sought after. Is any of this the right quest for our alleged brightest and most able?
We lack a public, scientific account.