Dumbest of This Week's 5 Dumbest: Transocean's Safety Bonuses

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Transocean ( RIG) citing safety as a reason for doling out big bonuses to its five top officials was considered the dumbest thing on Wall Street this week by readers of TheStreet.

As of late Friday, about 58% of the 215 readers that took our poll thought that Transocean's act of awarding bonuses based on safety successes was a particularly bad idea.

Not since Halliburton was added to Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes shortly after the oil stopped gushing from the BP Macondo well has such an interesting "pat on the back" been given to one of the primary companies bearing responsibility for the natural disaster.

Once Transocean realized that citing safety as a reason for awarding its executives a total of $19.5 million in the same year of the Deepwater Horizon may have been considered distasteful, it attempted to issue an apology.

Ihab Toma, Transocean's executive vice president for global business -- and one of the executives who hit pay dirt as a result of the "safety" successes made by the company in 2010 -- said in statement, "We acknowledge that some of the wording in our 2010 proxy statement may have been insensitive in light of the incident that claimed the lives of eleven exceptional men last year and we deeply regret any pain that it may have caused."

With approximately 14% of votes, the "policy riders" that House Republicans introduced in February were voted the second-dumbest thing on Wall Street this week.

Wall Street is a major player in the impending government shutdown that would close U.S. parks, cut off military pay and result in hundreds of thousands of government workers catching up on their midday soap operas.

That is because at the heart of the debate over the proposed budget includes several "policy riders," which seek to prevent some of the more ambitious and expensive programs Democrats have pushed for in the 2011 budget.

Among the proposals is a rider to cut off funds for the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, a major part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the agency Elizabeth Warren was picked to lead. If the rider is passed as part of the budget, the Federal Reserve would be prevented from funding the BCFP to the tune of $80 billion.

The GOP has always questioned the authority of the CFPB as being too overreaching. "This is not about Elizabeth Warren, it's about giving one person total, unbridled authority," said House Financial Services chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) in published reports.

Ms. Warren is not exactly helping her cause by telling Washington lawmakers that, well, she knows better. "If we had had this agency six years ago, eight years ago, we would not be in the mess we are today," she is quoted as saying in Congressional testimony.

The news that Charlie Sheen was planning to trademark 22 of his catchphrases, including "Duh, Winning" and "Tiger Blood," was considered dumb by 13% of voters.

Records show that Hyro-Gliff, a company with ties to the actor, filed trademark applications between March 19 and 22 seeking protection for Sheen's name, signature and a number of his most popular phrases and sayings, including such cultural totems as "Vatican Assassin" and "Rock Star From Mars."

The company also applied to trademark his nickname for his home, "Sober Valley Lodge," and his girlfriends, "Sheen's Goddesses."

Sheen's spokesman, according to The Associated Press, said any potential uses of the trademarks, if granted, will be determined later.

Meanwhile, on a related note, the former CBS ( CBS) star performed in Cleveland on Tuesday evening and was greeted, according to reviews, by an initially enthusiastic audience that turned against the performer within a matter of minutes, once it became clear that witnessing the man's unique combination of hubris, banality and self-worship was far less amusing than crowd members apparently thought it might be.

Close to 12% of voters found it dumb that hackers recently broke into Epsilon system and gained access to the e-mail addresses of just about anyone who's ever done business with its corporate partners.

The data breach at Alliance Data Systems' marketing firm Epsilon hit a number of financial institutions, including Chase ( CCF), Citigroup ( C), Barclay's ( BCS) and Capital One ( COF)

Retailers and services including Best Buy ( BBBY), Target ( TGT), Hilton or Marriott ( MAR) and TiVo ( TIVO), were also affected.

The major problem with Epsilon coughing up e-mail addresses instead of any one of their aforementioned corporate partners is that Epsilon is the firm those companies use to both specifically target consumers and to finesse e-mail providers into letting their clients bypass spam filters.

This breach not only allows hackers to use Epsilon's mass-mail highway to speed spam past the very filters designed to catch it, but lets them lure you with details about that 65-inch plasma screen you bought last week and the Blu-ray version of Weekend at Bernie's you bought to test it out.

Sure this is bad for Epsilon's 2,500 corporate partners who now have to find a way of differentiating themselves from the possible phonies, but it also made Google ( GOOG), Yahoo ( YHOO), Microsoft ( MSFT) and about every other e-mail provider look inept by allowing their touted spam filters to be trampled by a "customer intelligence" firm.

Almost 2% of voters think that McDonald's ( MCD) attempting to help out with America's unemployment problem while improving the image of the McJob is pretty dumb.

On Monday, the fast food chain announced it would add 50,000 new workers on April 19, including crew and management positions, part-time and full-time.

For its part, McDonald's boasts that half of all owner-operators of its franchised restaurants started out as store employees, along with 40% of McDonald's corporate staff and 30% of its senior management, including CEO Jim Skinner.

"Our national hiring event is an opportunity to invite more people across the country to join our team, and learn that a McJob is one with career growth and endless possibilities," says McDonald's USA President Jan Fields, in the company press release heralding the plan. Fields said the average pay for the new positions will be $8.30 per hour, higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Restaurant managers could make as much as $50,000 per year, she added.

All of which may be so, but even working a full 40-hour week at $8.30 an hour, a McJobber's annual salary would be just over $17,000 -- before taxes -- meaning a lucky drive-through window engineer, if he or she is single and has no children, would be living above the meager poverty line ($10,830 per year in the lower 48 states) but certainly not living well.

And health insurance? That's a tall order. Starbucks ( SBUX) offers a basic plan for $10.50 per week to employees who work at least 20 hours a week. Some McDonald's store employees have access to a health insurance, but it varies from franchise to franchise. Currently only about 40% of all store employees are enrolled in a plan.

-- Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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