Robert Samuelson accurately categorizes America’s CEOs as a new economic aristocracy in his most recent column. Why CEO salaries are so absurdly high is caused by many factors, some of which the columnist lists, but that fact is inescapable that the salaries cannot be defended by rational arguments. This is in stark contrast, by the way, to similarly high-salaried entertainers and sports figures, who tend to really earn their money. There is, after all, only one LeBron James, Tiger Woods, or Jon Stewart. Corporate CEOs, though they would like to think they are unique talents, seldom are. Could you replace most of them for considerably less than the going rate of 20 million dollars a year? Absolutely.
Thus continuing to accept such absurd salaries and attendant benefits while the economy stutters, their companies restrict hiring and the gap between worker salaries and executive compensation widens is unethical, pure and simple. Doing so is based on greed and willfully ignoring the consequences of the conduct, as Samuelson points out, though he hardly needs to, so obvious should it be to corporate executives and outside observers alike:
“Americans dislike aristocracies. Unless companies can find a more restrained pay system, they risk an anti-capitalist public backlash. This is the ultimate danger. For all the flaws of today’s system, government regulation of pay — responding to political needs and pandering to popular prejudices — would be much worse.”
Just as irresponsible as these gorging, selfish, unrestrained and greedy executives are the class-dividing hypocrites who try to exploit public resentment and pander to those popular prejudices while profiting from the same irrational system of misaligned resources that make those CEOs the equivilent of sultans. I know I have been critical of Hillary Clinton regularly of late, but I am not responsible for flaunting her in front of my wincing eyes and abused ears on a daily basis. How dare she try to pose as an advocate of a rational system of wealth distribution? And how pathetic that her tone-deaf and logic-free supporters tolerate it!
In a weekend interview with the Guardian, Clinton pronounced herself a fit champion of populism and a credible agent of reform for skewed income levels because progressives “don’t see me as part of the problem because we pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names; and we’ve done it through dint of hard work.”
Those progressives are gullible and naive idiots then!
Thanks for that clarification.
Without hearing her inflection, it is impossible to know whether she meant to suggest, as conservatives are claiming, that she and Bill aren’t “truly well off.” That would be offensive and idiotic, and I will, absent proof to the contrary, assume that she was instead drawing a distinction between herself and other “truly well off” people. Her statement is still dishonest, hypocritical and offensive.
“Ordinary income tax” means, I assume, that she doesn’t have assets that are subject to capital gains benefits. So what? The Clintons take advantage of legal tax shelters and tax benefits when they can, and in that respect she is no different from those whose names she doesn’t name—a pretty slimy way of impugning those she doesn’t have the courage to insult directly, by the way. What do you think Whitewater was about? It was the kind of quick profit real estate opportunity that well-connected people—like her— have access to. Now, Clinton charges $200,000 a speech in many cases. Is that “dint of hard work”? No, that’s influence peddling. It is also called gouging; or aiding and abetting a misuse of corporate funds.
Clinton gives a canned speech that may last 45 minutes and charges $200,000, and that’s less outrageous than a CEO who gets paid 20 million a year? That fee could only be justified, if at all, by a company so irresponsible that it thinks 20 million is a reasonable salary. I’d like Ms. Clinton to explain how she can simultaneously attack a system that contributes to such income inequality and rake in the benefits of it. She doesn’t have to charge that much, you know. How many lower level employees might get off the public dole if she accepted, say, a measly $100,000 per 45 minute speech? It’s pure greed, essentially—there is far less value conferred for that price than what even the most over-paid CEO delivers.
Meanwhile, we learned last week that Chelsea Clinton, whose foray into completely amateurish and unprepared professional broadcasting was an utter embarrassment, received $600,000 from NBC for the privilege. Talk about cashing in on parental celebrity! How many Americans see their children get more than a half-million dollars for a job they have no qualifications for whatsoever? How immune from embarrassment and decency does someone have to be to accept such a salary? Did NBC really have to spell it out for Chelsea? Did she really think this was because of her value to NBC in viewers, ad dollars and prestige? If the network suits had said, “We’re paying you about ten times what we should because we’re sucking up to your parents, and expect a quid for this pro” would she have accepted the money then? Obviously yes…especially since her family’s enablers and blind admirers have proved that there is nothing, literally nothing, that they can’t rationalize.
If someone wants to cash in and make money the most important thing in their value system, that’s fine with me,
- ….as long as they don’t cause societal damage in the balance, as I believe most of the over-paid CEOs do, and
- ….as long as they don’t pose as a populist, a critic of those greedy opportunists who are exactly like them, and a credible critic of the same corrupt system that nets them in fancy homes and obscene pay-offs to their children.
Like Hillary Clinton.