Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 6, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

EXECUTIVE PAY....Credit where credit is due. The LA Times also ran a pretty good op-ed today about job outsourcing. "There is no job that is America's God-given right anymore," Carly Fiorina, CEO of Hewlett-Packard, recently noted. "We have to compete for jobs." Jesse Kornbluth agrees:

Fair enough. But why limit the competition to those who always take the fall for declining profits people who live from paycheck to paycheck? Why not widen the focus? If budget-busting tax breaks for business and weakened workplace regulations aren't enough to ensure profits, maybe American corporations should consider outsourcing upper-echelon employees that is, CEOs.

....My bet is that Indian or Chinese executives would happily become American CEOs for salaries of $250,000. Would Indian or Chinese CEOs require millions of dollars in sweeteners? Not likely. And it's equally unlikely that they would demand the grotesque going-away payments that are the final prize for departing American CEOs.

Quite right. CEO compensation in America has skyrocketed over the past two decades for no particular reason except that CEOs largely control their own salaries and can get away with it. If they were genuinely paid on performance, they'd make about a tenth of their current pay and independent boards really would be importing bright young executives from India.

I don't have any problem with Fortune 500 executives being paid a lot. But, contra Carly, their attitude that sky high CEO executive pay is God given is sickening. They need to be brought back into the real world.

Kevin Drum 9:23 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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