News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Great Britain has a royal wedding; the U.S. crowns many kings.

I have often  been deeply puzzled about the extravagant salaries and privileges given to corporate executives.  As a news paper editor who once covered the business, I had frequent contact and interviews with a number of corporate executives, including CEOs.  Some were brilliant and clearly made a difference in the success of their companies.  Others made reporters and many of their employees wonder how they landed the jobs they had and why them kept them.  They were not intelligent, skilled, or particularly good at what they did.  They seemed to retain their jobs out of some kind of royalist mystique, like the titular kings and queens still ensconced on thrones in parts of the world.  Some were simply egregious assholes.

The pay of executives is particularly distressing at a time when so many governors are telling their workers that they get paid too much in salaries and benefits.   

A new web site put up by the AFL-CIO deepens my puzzlement.  It details the salaries of CEOs at the Russel 3000 corporations.   It points out in a study of 299 companies on the Standard and Poor's 500 index that the combined total of the CEO's pay was $3.4 billion in 2010, enough to support 102,325 jobs paying the median wage.

I have also been puzzled by the pay of college presidents, although they do not receive anywhere near the amount of corporate CEOs.  However, I worked during a time when their salaries jumped up dramatically while some of them were literally destroying the institutions over which they presided.  

Many of the executives on the web site are among those who created the Great Recession that besieged us in 2009.  Go figure.  If you dare. 

1 comment:

Douglas said...

Percentage wage "cost of living increases" for all employees no matter how much they are already paid more than the minimum wage cause a steady increase in the spread between high and low pay.

A secretary plinking away on a keyboard and catering to an executive might get a $300 annual increase if any, while an executive will get thousands of dollars in a similar percentage increase. This makes no sense...unless of course you are an already overpaid executive or college administrator.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States