Today's Outrage: Bank Bonuses Are Bunk

Nothing can persuade me that anything more than a small minority of bank executives earned their pay.
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I cannot believe that

banks paid $1.6 billion

in salaries, bonuses and benefits to their top executives last year.

The compensation given to nearly 600 executives would cover bailout costs for many of the 116 banks that have received tax dollars so far, according to an analysis by the

Associated Press.

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report

alone paid $242 million to just five of its top brass last year, with $54 million going to CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

Former Goldman COO John Thain took home $83 million last year. When Thain joined

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

as CEO at the end of last year, he got a $15 million signing bonus and $68 million in stock options.

Those are just a few examples of wanton excess from years past, when wealth flowed to banking bosses as just about every financial institution joined in the mortgage derivatives delirium that nearly bankrupted the global financial system.

This is beyond outrageous. Nothing anyone can say will persuade me that anything more than a small minority of banking executives earned their pay in recent years.

In fact, I'd like to see them all return the bonuses they received for every year they indulged in the mortgage mayhem they created.

If they had any self respect or sense of decency, that's what they'd do. But I won't hold my breath.