Cliff Mason wrote a wonderful article on his blog at CNBC.com about how the public doesn't understand the meaning of the word "bonus" as it applies to Wall Street. With all this talk of late about ballooning lump sum payments to CEOs of failing companies, the general public is on a witch hunt for executives who are taking more money out of their government-funded companies than absolutely necessary.
However, what the public fails to understand is that many people on Wall Street rely on bonuses as a significant portion of their compensation, and are paid a significantly smaller salary because of it. They are not paid in the paycheck-every-two-weeks-and-that's-it structure like most Americans. When Obama recently stated that 'now is not the time for bonuses', it was just like saying 'now is not the time for paychecks.' A bonus IS a paycheck. I find it interesting that no major media outlets (other than the finance-specific press) are interested in telling this side of the story.