Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Larger conspiracy re: ‘executive compensation’

The national debate about executive compensation is woefully inadequate. Most of the talk has been about CEO pay to companies receiving government “bailout” funds. But the problem goes much, much deeper.

Each of the Fortune 1,000 companies has a CEO, right? Plus, a CFO, a CIO, and a COO, right? Not to mention various and sundry Executive Vice Presidents and Vice Presidents. Then they all have boards of directors with upwards of 20 compensated board members each, right? So now, according to my calculations, we have a class of 30,000-40,000 or so individuals nationally with an interest in not having the government regulate executive compensation.

That’s big. That’s a lot of concerned individuals—all of whom have “friends” in Congress and the executive branch and they are spending millions, even as we speak, lobbying the government to keep their interests in mind. That’s more than just a one or two “rogue” CEOs.

Some companies, after receiving government bailout money, straightened out their bottom lines, and then decided to pay the government back, so as to keep the feds from meddling in their companies’ affairs. They seem most interested in keeping the executive compensation issue, out of the public discussion.

It’s not just a few CEOs who have a “nickel in this quarter.”

Let me describe their conundrum in my own version of “Faux Ebonics,” as if spoken by “Big Mama,” the grandmother, matriarch and head of a typical three-generation, inner-city household.

“Honey, I ain’t takin’ no mo’ that Gov’mint Cheese. De’Onte doin’ good now. Him an’ his frien’s down to the Rec Center, makin’ good money now. So we’s givin’ back dat Gov’mint Cheese, cuz we don’ wont none dem Social Wu’kers sniffin’ roun’ here no mo’.”

There’s a lot of “Cheese,” government and otherwise, on these executives’ tables too. A lot of Cheese is on the table.

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