I thought I had heard it all. A generation of CEO's each determined to prove he was more greedy than his competitors. No matter what riches their supine boards and criminally conflicted institutional shareholders showered on them, it wasn't enough. After all, they had to be "incentivized", surely a word no working person had ever heard of. But our CEO princes really couldn't be motivated to get out of bed in the morning for a mere 15-20 million. They needed more. After all, look what Lee Raymond got for warming a seat at XOM. Look at Hank McKinnell of Pfizer, who presided over a devastating period of stock losses. They all wanted more. Their vehicle of choice was the incentive stock option, which were awarded them in mindboggling volume by their boards. The theory was that the options "aligned them with shareholders", as if drawing a multimillion dollar salary wasn't enough to induce them to act properly. No, they also had to have the options. Heaven forbid anyone suggest they actually go out and buy shares. After all, most of the board memebers didn't own any substantial amount of shares either. They were typically chosen because they were cronies who could be counted on not to rock the boat, with the requiste minority female university administrator or political hack to add "vision." Now we find out that what we knew all along is true. It was all lies. The options were just a euthemism for theft. Turns out a shocking number of companies backdated the options, year after year, so that the exercise price was magically the low of the year or half year. See http://www.thestreet.com/tech/networking/10287213.html . So the incentive part was just a lie. The options were basically just a cover to steal money that rightfully belonged to the shareholders. The only incentive these crooks had was to do or say something so stupid during the year that the stock took a big hit, giving them a perfect "entry." Of course, unlike real investors, they never had to worry about the stock continuing to decline. After all, it was all being done with 20-20 hindsight. The authorities are looking into it. I'm not expecting much. After all, we wouldn't want to cripple capitalism.