Still on the subject of corporate pay, I’m seeking answers to the problem from my little bit of knowledge of keeping up on current affairs and from my small experience as a shareholder (not in AIG thank God). Many employees hold shares of their company and as such shareholders are sent usually quarterly or annual voting information. I used to throw these out, knowing that our tiny percentage of ownership amounted to spit in a pond. But that’s not exercising a right that could have an impact if everyone took it more seriously.
There’s always the usual blah blah blah to vote on, but there’s also the usual “disclosure of executive compensation” item that the Board “suggests you vote no” on. Well dammit, vote YES! If every employee with his lousy 100 shares in 100,000,000 voted, then maybe something could be done. The big guys are counting on your lack of confidence in your vote counting.
I’m by no means a proponent of multi-million dollar salaries for executives (nor for movie stars or ballplayers for that matter) but what’s at work here is ‘whatever the market will bear’ and no one is going to refuse the extra money. And the fact of life is that someone somewhere thinks these people are worth it; shareholders, moviegoers, sportsfans. Sometimes these people actually may be worth it; it ain’t easy running a global conglomerate that employs thousands of workers; maybe it ain’t easy to cry on cue for a camera either. And maybe it doesn’t seem fair that one may work hard and get paid 1/300th of the top guy but it’s not just hard work that’s being compensated. It isn’t fair to see some bimbo marry the CEO and walk away a few years later with a portion of his salary that easily translates to the annual salaries of hundreds of laid-off workers either. But life’s never been guaranteed as fair.