03 August 2005

How obscene can CEO pay get?

This is absolutely obscene. This MSN MoneyCentral article shows the plight of workers - and the perks of CEOs - at four of America's leading companies. I'm puking; after all, I've given a significant amount of business to two of these four - Ford Motor Company and United Airlines - in the past. (As recently as last year, I was putting in enough miles at United to almost qualify as an "elite" flier.) And the plight seems to be a nationwide trend as opposed to being limited to these four companies.

CEO pay has outpaced the average workers' pay for the past few decades. When President Reagan advocated his "trickle-down" economics, he wanted the CEOs to generate some wealth so that it would eventually work its way down to the rank-and-file. Well, it didn't work. CEOs fattened themselves with their never-ending greed, while workers, represented by ineffective unions run by just-as-greedy bosses, suffered. It looks like a corporate pension plan for the average American worker is now a thing of the past, along with vacations, and pretty soon, health insurance.

There is, in fact, no more incentive for the average American to work anymore, except to barely survive. Remember that communist economies failed because they glorified workers - and hard labor - without rewarding it much in reality. As anti-communist as America is, I don't see much of a difference anymore. Workers are blamed for their laziness, yet when they do work hard and create wealth, they see very little of it. And when CEOs make bad business decisions, workers pay by giving up their pensions, or even worse, their jobs; United Airlines, again, is a clear example of this, having overexpanded in the 1990s, relied too much on the Silicon Valley bubble passengers, and flirted with a disastrous stock option plan instead of a pay raise.

Capitalist economy works when the average worker is rewarded well for his work, and has enough of a disposable income to spend on goods and services. This is no longer the case in the United States. In red states such as Arizona, there is no disposable income, period. Sure, the US economy has been recovering, but only for those at the very top. And the wartime tax cuts (what the @#$*(^ is that? a wartime tax cut?) have only served to fatten the super-rich at the expense of average taxpayers like me. This is not going to work. No wonder American workers are becoming disgruntled, their productivity falls compared to Europe and Asia, and this whole deal is proving to be counterproductive. (Again, neither Ford nor GM is known for quality vehicles, and neither United nor Continental is known for quality inflight service.)

America deserves better than this. Too bad the Republicans are such good manipulators, and the Democrats don't offer a clear alternative.