... Over the past three decades, a bizarre sense of entitlement has governed executive compensation.

... The notion that executives were special became so entrenched that today, many executives can't understand why anyone would challenge it. This explains the why so many of them have a tin ear about public outrage.

There will be some form of cap on executive compensation in the forthcoming economic stimulus bill. That's important, but the larger issue is the long-term trend in executive compensation, and that will require a shareholder revolt. Not all public companies — and surely not many on Wall Street — tie compensation to performance.

... A fairer system could include increasing base salaries and tying all deferred payments — stock options, bonuses and the like — to the creation of measurable, real value. Federal regulations should be crafted to limit boards from concocting bogus reasons to award incentives that aren't earned.

It would [be] nice if we could legislate some humility, too, but of that we have small hope.