Clearly we should all be outraged by people who are getting these bribes for showing up at work and staying all day. Not to mention the ones who are working hard to turn a profit. What the hell is wrong with them? They think that they should actually get some kind of monetary payment for performance?
I think we are getting wrapped up in this mob mentality and we are forgetting about the middle class--the very class that everyone is fighting to save. It is a common practice in many companies to give bonuses at the end of the year based on performance and I don't see a problem with that. It's called merit based pay and it just makes sense to me.
That means that instead of paying everyone the same thing even though some schmucks are going to go home early on Wednesdays no matter what, you pay your high performers more for their contributions. And you make it yearly to keep them motivated to work hard. It's a good deal for the company because they have high producers and it is a good deal for the employees because they know where they stand and they see their hard work paying off.
Man I would be pissed if, hypothetically, I worked at a place that paid the slackers the same as the hard workers. There is only so much pride in performance and work ethic that a person can have before they go crazy that Mr. Arrives after 9, Goes to the Lunch for 90 minutes at 11:30, and then Goes to the Gym at 2 before he leaves work at 4 gets paid the same as you. You. The one at your desk by 8 and works through lunch almost every day only to leave at 5 and then Work from Home each night. Yeah. That would make me really mad, hypothetically.
Which is why I think working at a place that gives performance bonuses based on the *ahem* PERFORMANCE of an individual is a great idea. Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water here. Sure, there are idiot CEOs at companies that are taking bailout money and then not spending it wisely (I'm looking at you Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) but not all companies are doing this. Otherwise it wouldn't be Breaking! News! when they do.
Most companies are probably full of middle income earners that are managers and individual contributors who work their asses off and spend too many hours away from their families every day to produce something good for their company. Sometimes not taking vacation days. Sometimes logging on during their vacation time. Sometimes working at all hours of the day or night to meet deadlines. They are just doing what they are told and are continuing to work during pay freezes and threats of lay-offs. They have employees that are filling up the community refrigerators with lunches rather than going out to eat like they used to. They have employees who love what they are doing and fear that it will all end at any moment.
And these people deserve bonuses if their performance merits one. I am totally ok with that. Once we have people in Congress and the media flipping out when the middle class gets an annual bonus we are defeating the purpose of trying to have an economic recovery.
(That being said, you VPs and high level executives that are getting tons of money to leave your job because you are terrible can leave your bonus at the door on the way out. You shouldn't be getting a bonus for the hot mess that you are leaving behind. You can go ahead and be ashamed of yourself.)