07 April 2013

... Something Completely Different...

So I am trolling the NYTimes today and see this article about CEO pay.  (Yes, that again).  Take a look

Now, I get how we should reap what we sow, and that risk has its rewards, and all that.  But something about this rubs me the wrong way.  It started with this:

"As C.E.O. of Hertz, Mark Frissora pushes rental cars, but he racked up nearly a half-million dollars’ worth of personal travel on the corporate jet last year. Marsh & McLennan, the risk management company, doesn’t own its own plane — it prefers holding a fractional share of a jet — but that didn’t stop its chief, Brian Duperreault, from running up $441,875 in private plane travel on the company tab before he retired at year-end.
 
"These highfliers help explain why pay for perks like jet travel and other supplemental benefits including pension contributions and life insurance policies jumped last year, even as overall compensation rose only modestly.
 
"For the 100 highest-paid C.E.O.’s among American companies with revenue of more than $5 billion, the typical 2012 perks package was worth $320,635, up 18.7 percent from 2011, according to an analysis by Equilar for The Times. By contrast, median total pay among the 100 C.E.O.’s rose just 2.8 percent, to more than $14 million."

Perks are fun, I admit.  For example, clergy get to wear funny clothes sometimes and not get laughed at.  Very cool.  If someone curses aloud they get all embarrassed if we are nearby.  We get invited to join charitable boards.  It's a good life. 

Really, it is, but of course my point is that to avoid taxes and other burdens, our big CEO types are riding around in private jets, and...

"Mr. Wynn, for example, enjoyed a villa in Las Vegas that cost the company $451,574 for the year. Greg Brown, chief executive of Motorola Solutions, was honored by his employer with an endowed chair in the neuroscience department of his alma mater, Rutgers University. Mr. Brown didn’t receive the money directly: Motorola Solutions donated $1.5 million to the university, where he is a trustee, but the position will be named for him."
 
Ok, I did live in a parsonage or two.  One was an apartment in a posh building, but the interior was pre-war as we New Yorkers call them.  The other was a farmhouse with barn.  And while I do give to my seminary, it is my money and it could endow a reliable supply of pens. 
 
My point is that somewhere between living in a church farmhouse and a villa, somewhere between a car allowance of 55 cents a miles and nearly half a million in private planes, we move from reward to greed, from earning to exploiting. And I know where that line is.  But this post is too long, so that will have to wait a day or two.

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