Friday, July 20, 2007


Indecent Disclosure

Many naive idealists believed that, once the SEC's new executive-pay disclosure rules went into effect, CEOs would either tone down their greed out of "modesty" (that's a laugh) or, at the very least, shareholders would rise up in anger at the unambiguous evidence of excessive pay and do something about it. Now those long-awaited reports have appeared, and nobody's doing anything. The new rules have done little beyond empowering the latent exhibitionism of corporate leadership, and they are unabashedly exposing their ill-gotten family jewels.

The average S&P CEO took home $8.3 million last year, and ten made more than $30 million. CEOs as a class earn 400 times more than the average worker - as opposed to only 20 times as in "all other advanced nations".

Barney Frank has proposed an "advisory vote on executive compensation", but that will remain merely "advisory" and may literally fall on deaf ears. CEOs will still pay themselves what they wish, let the world know about it without shame, and go on with their lives of monomaniacal acquisition as before. Congress is far too timid to impose "hard-knuckles political solutions", such as "restoring the upper-bracket tax rate to 70 percent (which was what JFK and Congress lowered it to in 1961, down from 90 percent)".

The article at the link below warns that "wealth polarization in America is now at levels not seen since the late 1920s, and with each subsequent episode of 'CEO pay gone wild', the sense that something is not right in our economy grows a little bit more." The article goes on. "With each passing year," it warns, "as those greedy CEOs keep rewarding themselves for cutting costs, moving jobs overseas, and other cunning ways to further distinguish themselves financially from the great unwashed rabble, they tug a little harder on the rubber band that binds society together."

The emperor has no clothes on anymore, and it will soon become time for us to either ridicule him or throw him in jail.

"COMMENTARY: The Endlessly Amazing Greed of American CEOs" from

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