A commenter on the HuffPo who must have been in hibernation the last few years wrote snidely when someone complained of CEO pay that no one cared about the exorbitant amount until the recent ridiculous spending in light of the taxpayer bailout.
Obviously, this commenter lives in an alternate reality. Or they go to one of those “prosperity gospel” churches who forget baby jesus didn’t like the rich and tell all their peeps that god wants them to drive Escalades and live in mini-manses, so they need to tithe regularly to get them.
I’ve long had a problem with CEO ever since. In 2005, I worked for the printing arm of an insurance company whose CEO made above 20 mill a year and had a private jet while the peeps who worked on the printing floor made around 7 bucks, received no sick leave and couldn’t afford the crippling fees for the company-offered health insurance for themselves or their children. Funny how a health insurance company couldn’t afford cheaper health insurance for their own employees – yet the CEO and the good ol’ white boys at the top were making out like bandits.
And remember the deserved hoopla over the $28 million paycheck Alan Mulally received after heading up Ford for only 4 months? Yeah. Stratospheric CEO pay had been a problem for quite a long white.
In fact, Obama wrote a few words regarding the subject in his last book The Audacity of Hope, which was released in 2006. In light of the new CEO pay restrictions, which – surprise, surprise, – some Big Business bitch Republicans have come out against, I thought it apropos to highlight Obama’s opinion on the issue before the economy took a nose-dive.
In 1980, the average CEO made fort-two times what an average hourly worker took home. By 2005, the ratio was 262 to 1. Conservative outlets like the Wall Street Journal editorial page try to justify outlandish salaries and stock options as necessary to attract top talent, and suggest that the economy actually performs better when America’s corporate leaders are fat and happy. But the explosion in CEO pay has had little to do with improved performance. In fact, some of the country’s most highly compensated CEOs over the past decade have presided over huge drops in earnings, losses in shareholder value, massive layoffs, and the underfunding of their workers’ pension funds.
What accounts for the change in CEO pay is not any market imperative. It’s cultural. At a time when average workers are experiencing little or no income growth, many of America’s CEOs have lost any sense of shame about grabbing whatever their pliant, handpicked corporate boards will allow. Americans understand the damage such an ethic of greed has on our collective lives; in a recent survey, they ranked corruption in government and business, and greed an materialism, as two of the three most important moral challenges facing the nation (“raising kids with the right values” ranked first). Conservatives may be right when they argue that the government should not try to determine executive pay packages. But conservatives should at least be willing to speak out against unseemly behavior in corporate boardroom with the same moral force, the same sense of outrage, that they direct against dirty rap lyrics.
Trickle-down wealth is a myth. The top economic class hoard the wealth, grow the poverty class and weaken the middle class – which weakens the economy. Our country needs to reevaulate whether we’re willing to allow the wealthy to take the rest of us for a ride. Obviously, I vote no.
And isn’t it nice to have a president a bit of common sense? Like a breath of fresh air.