Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This Is What You Get

Over the last few years the media has had quite a time reporting on corporate excess. A few years back the big name in the news was Kenneth Lay of Enron. In more recent days, John Thain and Dick Fuld have been cast to the forefront. Each time a new name takes center stage, we're told that such folks are the exceptions to the rule. Most corporate CEOs are good folks who would never ever take advantage of the system.

I've got news for you, corporate excess is part and parcel OF the system. The only thing the three men above are guilty of is what most CEOs are guilty of -- unmitigated greed and an economic system that promotes this.

As United for a Fair Economy has reported for over a decade, the gap between CEO pay and that of their workers is mind boggling! Within the last 10 years, the gap has been as high as 525 to 1 and, as of 2005, was 411 to 1. Put into wage figures, if an average worker earned $40,000, the CEO earned $21 million (2000) and $16.4 million (2005).

What on earth could A-N-Y CEO do to justify that kind of gap? Often times what they have done is laid off workers -- those people toiling away to make the CEO rich -- or they've run their companies into the ground. Yet, regardless of whether or not the company profits are up or down, the CEOs always seem to come out of it smelling like gold-plated roses.

Still, despite this, I do feel a bit of sympathy for the Lays, Thains and Fulds of this world. Since gouging the public and lining your golden parachute is par for the course, these fellows must wonder why they have been singled out to be made the poster children of corporate excess.

You see, the exception to the rule is those few CEOs who behave in a reasonable and responsible manner -- not the legions who don't. Until we create an economic system that values people over profits, corporate excess will continue unabated and this will lay the ground for more poster children to be born.


  1. A minor quibble:

    "the CEO earned $21 million (2000) and $16.4 million (2005)."

    Substitute "was paid" for "earned."

    There is no way that it was earned.


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