Imagine if you could report the value of your work on your tax return, rather than your actual income. At the end of the year, you’d issue yourself a W2 or a 1099 based on a comparison of how other people who did the same kind of work valued their efforts. The lower the worth you put on your work, the lower your taxes. Let’s just say the IRS wouldn’t be too happy with a system that encouraged low-balling.
Wall Street bankers were able to arrange an equally self-serving compensation system for themselves - and they got away with it.