Thursday, January 04, 2007

Eye-popping executive salaries

I think it was Bertrand Russell who said (pls correct me if I'm mistaken): "a specialist is a person who gets to know more and more, about less and less, until he finally knows everything about nothing". The executive salary situation reminds me a little about the above quote, in that (proportionately) fewer and fewer people are getting paid more and more, until finally a tiny elite owns everything. Well, thats obviously an exaggeration, but it is a parallel.

How much reward constitutes "enough", or "too much", or "too little" (dare I ask?)? I am vehemently against government regulation and intrusion into peoples' private affairs... but this Thomas Paine quote puts it in a nutshell: "Society is produced by our wants, and governments by our wickedness." In the case of insane executive rewards, when society fails to exercise self-discipline and the top individuals within it fail to exercise "reasonable self restraint", where bloated excess, greed, grossness, opulence and the resulting astronomical wealth does not reflect those individuals' worth to civilization, then that is the (unfortunate) time where responsible government ends up having to step in, for the sake of everyone.

How much higher can executive salaries get, before regular people start getting pissed enough to do something about it? There may be also a fear factor, a cold war relic at play here preventing this, (especially here in the US): Are we too afraid of being called "communists" or similar, because suddenly we recommend that the top people are limited to getting paid only 5,000 times the rate of regular workers, for example, as opposed to 10,000 times, or 20,000, or 100,000 times or unlimited?

The top exec. salary thing is also a game they play ... a celebrity competition amongst the elite to see who leads the table of excess. Not only that, but these people can afford to hire teams of skilled accountants and lawyers to set up complex trusts and overseas accounts etc. etc. in order to "legally" avoid paying taxes.

If these top salaried folks cant keep their own houses in order, re pay, and the situation gets so crazily out of kelter and lopsided that government is forced to finally step in, then that is the fault, not of government, but the narrowminded greed, lack of vision, and the "out-of-touch-with-reality" of these pigs. It's a bit of a parallel with the effects of terrorism, where the (evil) actions of a tiny minority screw things up for all... or in microcosm, where a kid misbehaves, doesn't own up, and the entire class ends up being punished.

At some point, I believe, enough is enough.

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