February 11, 2009 9:21AM

Executive Pay Restrictions

Government‐​imposed pay restrictions are generally a bad idea; we have literally centuries of evidence showing that price controls always undermine economic performance.


But in the case of executives who came begging to the feds after mismanaging their companies: Sorry, guys, you asked for it.


President Obama’s proposal gets me nervous since it may lead to further meddling by government, but there is a silver lining. Bailouts are a major threat to the economy’s long‐​run dynamism, so I want to discourage companies from sticking their snouts in the public trough. Restricting pay for incompetent corporate executives is not a proper role of government (by definition, successful corporate executives do not try to loot taxpayers). But propping up poorly‐​run companies is so misguided that second‐​best (or even 50th-best) options may be palatable. Corporate chieftains who run their companies into the ground should not be allowed to simultaneously shift the burden of their mistakes to taxpayers and expect multi‐​million dollar pay packages.