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I can be pretty cynical, but I've concluded executive bonuses are really just a way of paying executives higher salaries without having to admit they pay them a ton. Either the company does well (see, they deserve this) or it does poorly (it's unfair to penalize them for something outside their control). No matter what they're going to get a stack of cash. It may be smaller some years, but there's a minimum amount that really isn't at risk.