Monday, March 30, 2009

MISC: Bonus

Bonus: Something given or paid in addition to what is usual or expected.

I have worked for close to four decades now, maybe a third of that time on full-time staff at some company. The rest of the time, various companies have been clients. In all that time, I have received bonuses THREE times. The first was a Christmas turkey while still in the employ of my original employers, The Bramalea Guardian weekly newspaper. The result later was that I didn't take a holiday for almost three years. The second was a cash bonus from some food brokers that were clients. I gave them free or low-cost service for much of the following decade before firing them as clients ... about two years later than I should. And the third was when a cheque arrived in the mail from Sri Nanda Lal Dutta, who wanted to reprint an article of mine from The Bridge World for the then upcoming Indian National Bridge Championships Souvenir Album. At least THAT act of generosity didn't result in me working like a madman after the fact.

To me, a bonus is unexpected, a tacit pat on the back that says, "Good job, keep it up." I have never expected a bonus, been grateful (to the point of ridiculousness) upon getting one and operate under the assumption that the last bonus I've seen WILL BE the LAST bonus I will ever see. See definition above.

Now, LOTS of companies hand out bonuses come year end as a matter of course. I know people who BUDGET in their bonus. That's bizarre to me. Especially the ones who budget in big amounts, REGARDLESS of whether the company is doing badly and splendidly. Near as I can tell, those things SHOULD have an effect on bonuses, even to the point of potentially NOT HAVING bonuses.

In my not so humble opinion, if the company loses money, bonuses shouldn't be paid. Even if one person does great and makes the company a heap of money, while the rest of the people piddle that profit away, I don't believe anybody should get a bonus. Give the person with the Midas touch a raise, but no bonuses.

Matt Taibbi, who might be the best magazine writer around these days (apologies to Maureen Dowd, who's fallen a tad), has taken on the AIG situation twice this month, once for Rolling Stone and once for AlterNet. Taibbi's language tends to be a bit raw, but he uses the profanity to make points. Both articles are excellent (read the Rolling Stone article first) and give just about the best analysis of the disaster that AIG has become, that I've read.

If, after reading the articles, you have the slightest iota of empathy for Jake DeSantis, maybe you shouldn't be reading this blog. Or more likely, you shouldn't be having somebody read this blog to you.

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