THIS WEEK’S SYNDICATED COLUMN: CEO-Bashing for Fun and Profit

Obama, Media Grandstand on Executive Pay

SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS–On July 14, 1789 an angry mob invaded Paris’ Bastille prison, igniting a chain of events that became the French Revolution. The insurgents may have been provoked by a prisoner, the notorious Marquis de Sade. “They are killing the prisoners here!” he shouted to the crowd two weeks earlier, on July 2nd. The authorities moved him to another prison before the 14th.

The storming of the Bastille was pretty much a BS event. There were only seven prisoners for the revolutionaries to liberate, several of whom were living lives of considerable ease in fully furnished cells with servants. Yet the Bastille remains a symbol of monarchist oppression smashed by righteous people seeking freedom and equality. Sometimes empty symbolism means a lot.

Not so much here or now. Revolution doesn’t seem imminent in Obamaland, where polls show people pro-Bama despite losing their jobs, and a government bailout for everyone and everything except the people and institutions who actually need help. But revolution’s second cousin–symbolic scapegoating–is all around, like love in the Mary Tyler Moore Show theme song minus the beret toss.

“In 1980, according to a Forbes magazine study, executive compensation was 40 times the average worker’s pay; by 2007, that had soared to more than 400 times,” CBS News reported on February 25th. Now that the companies those ridiculously compensated executives were charged with running are tanking, CEO pay is coming under attack by pundits and politicians.

President Obama won headlines and plaudits for a $500,000 income cap on top corporate executives–an idea that I and other progressives have been promoting for ages (and that was derisively dismissed as socialism before the U.S. began sliding into oblivion in September). As with the Bastille, however, there’s a lot more symbolism than substance here.

First, the $500,000 cap doesn’t cover 99 percent of Fortune 500 companies–only those receiving federal bailout cash. Firms like Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and AIG, which got the first round of TARP moolah, won’t be affected. Only a handful of companies would be covered, and even they’ll escape the restriction. First, most CEOs receive relatively low salaries anyway. Most CEO compensation comes in the form of bonuses and stock options, which aren’t subject to Obama’s cap. And even the income cap cab can easily be evaded; CEOs simply have to notify company shareholders.
That’s not all. “[Obama’s income cap] excludes the midlevel execs who also received some of those Wall Street bonuses and who in many cases made the risky bets that sparked the crisis,” reports The Politico.com. There are more loopholes, so many you could drive a gold-plated Hummer through it if you could afford the gas, but you get the idea.

“America needs to understand that this is cosmetic, that this is to appease taxpayer ire,” says “Naked Capitalism” blogger Yves Smith, who has worked on Wall Street for 25 years. But that would be true even if Obama’s cap were real and applied to every CEO in America.

Universally blamed for the fiscal meltdown, Wall Street investment bankers are under fire for taking in billions in bonuses in 2008, a.k.a. The Year America Died. Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate banking committee, grandstanded thusly, vowing to use “every possible legal means to recoup the $18.4 billion in Wall Street bonuses.” Vice President Joe Biden said: “I’d like to throw these guys in the brig.”

Of course, nothing of the sort will happen. The bankers will keep their bonuses; they won’t be checking into the Greybar Hotel any time soon.

What’s gotten lost in the populist uprising is why seven-digit CEO salaries were worth talking about in the first place. They’re a symbol and litmus test of a bigger problem, skyrocketing income inequality, that has gotten worse and worse since the late 1960s. As the rich have grown richer–not just rich CEOs, but everyone in the top one to five percent of income earners–the poor, and especially the middle class, have become poorer and poorer.

The overall social problem of rising income inequality is at the root of our current economic ills. If corporations had paid the vast majority of workers the raises they deserved over the past 40 years, raises commensurate with increases in efficiency and productivity, people would have saved more and borrowed less. The real estate and credit bubbles wouldn’t have grown as big. When they burst, people would have had resources to fall back upon. We are broke, unemployed, and maxed out–not because we bought too much stuff, but because our bosses paid themselves instead of us.

CEO and executive compensation in general aren’t the problem, or even the cause of the problem. They are symptoms of a malady inherent in the capitalist system: the tendency of those who gain an early advantage to monopolize assets and aggregate wealth and influence at the expense of everyone else. You can see it when you play the board game “Monopoly.” More times than not, whoever gets an early lead wins.

It isn’t just CEOs. It’s millions of Americans at the top of the income scale, many of whom consider themselves middle class. Because they earned too much, others earned too little.

Insulting CEOs (while letting them keep their perquisites) may be fun. But it doesn’t begin to address what’s killing the U.S. economy: the rancid notion that one person’s hard day’s work deserves more pay than another’s.

COPYRIGHT 2009 TED RALL

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55 Responses to “THIS WEEK’S SYNDICATED COLUMN: CEO-Bashing for Fun and Profit”

  1. Orville Says:

    “But it doesn’t begin to address what’s killing the U.S. economy: the rancid notion that one person’s hard day’s work deserves more pay than another’s.”
    One person’s hard days work may indeed deserve more pay than another’s. I differ with you there. However, the idea that those with wealth, or, more appropriately, those who make money by trading other people’s money while doing little work on their own, is definitely false.

    Or, as Walter Rauschenbusch put it back in 1907,
    “Above the entrance of an Eastern penal institution the motto has been inscribed, ‘The worst day in the life of a young man is when he gets the idea that he can make a dollar without doing a dollar’s work for it.’ That is good sense, but how would that motto look on the walls of the New York Stock Exchange or the Chicago Produce Exchange? If a man buys stock or wheat on a margin and clears a hundred dollars, what labor or service has he given for which this is the reward?”

  2. Riz Says:

    “the rancid notion that one person’s hard day’s work deserves more pay than another’s.” ( emphasis added )

    Why rancid? This characterization reeks (pun intended) of logical fallacy.

    I won’t deny the premise that exec pay is orders of magnitude above the typical American worker, and that it is likely unjustifiable in many cases.

    However, there is no possible way that you can use this as the basis for such a ridiculously overbroad conclusion that it is “rancid” for one person to make more than other person.

    You’re saying that its “rancid” for a nuclear physicist to make more than someone mopping floors? “Rancid” for a microbiologist researching disease cures to make more than someone flipping burgers?

    There are numerous advanced careers require years of dedicated study and hard work. Who is going to put themselves through that if they know they’re going to have the same standard of living as a burger flipper?

    I certainly wouldn’t have. If I could have the same lifestyle doing some menial job, I’d never have put myself through years of headaches from school and shitty entry level jobs.

    That conclusion just ruined the whole column for me. I’m usually a fan of your writing (especially Silk Road to Ruin), and appreciate the thought and analysis you put your work. But with this kind of ridiculous generalization, this column leaves me with an impression of shrill hyperbole that I’d normally expect from Ann Coulter or Michelle Malkin.

    You would be better off sticking with the argument that the degree of difference in pay is unjust, rather than trying to argue that any difference in pay is itself unjust.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    “… it doesn’t begin to address what’s killing the U.S. economy: the rancid notion that one person’s hard day’s work deserves more pay than another’s.”

    Right. The guy sweeping the floor at JP Morgan/Chase deserves the same pay package as the CEO.

    LOL!!!

    Liberals: you gotta love ’em. They’re good for a laugh.

  4. Ted Rall Says:

    “The guy sweeping the floor at JP Morgan/Chase deserves the same pay package as the CEO.”

    Why not? Both jobs are equally necessary.

  5. Angelo Says:

    There is one step Obama can take if he really wanted to redistribute wealth:

    Treat capital flight and other forms of economic terrorism as such, and expand the governments ability to freeze these terrorists’ assets.

    Otherwise, the best he can do is end up like Allende, or, more likely, François Mitterrand.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    “Why not? Both jobs are equally necessary.”

    Ted: I suggest you read a particular Kurt Vonnegut short story. It’s called “Harrison Bergeron”. Maybe then you’ll “get it”.

    No, probably not.

  7. Ken Says:

    Tongue-in-cheek humor aside, perhaps a hard federal cap on wages IS necessary. It could possibly be enforced as such: that no one employee can make more than 20 times that of the average salary paid to all workers in that company. This should include bonuses and stock options as well. So, if you’re the CEO, and you want your salary to be higher, you have to pay everyone else a higher salary as well.

  8. Don Says:

    “But it doesn’t begin to address what’s killing the U.S. economy: the rancid notion that one person’s hard day’s work deserves more pay than another’s.”

    My question for you, Ted, is this: Absent financial incentive, what means would you use to encourage people to engage in work that either requires a great deal of training, or is grueling in nature, or for that matter both? As a math professor, my line of work falls in the former category; my father, who was a dockworker, required no training, but dealt with severe work conditions for thirty-four years. Mathematical instruction and manual labor are both necessary, but doing something “for the love of it” wears old pretty quickly.

  9. Flamingo Bob Says:

    Yes, rancid. As in: old, rotten and foul-smelling. Something that needed throwing out long ago.

    People have been so brainwashed with heirarchy, so indoctrinated into the idea that there are people who are just intrinsically “better” than they are, that they squeal blue murder if anyone even suggests they might be just as worthy as the guy who makes a hundred times what they do.

    Are a garbageman and a doctor equals? Why not indeed? Take away either and sickness ensues. Are they interchangeable? No. You need a strong back as well as a strong stomach to be a garbage man. Despite common “wisdom”, it’s not a job that can be done by just anyone. The doctor may pay more for school initially, but the garbageman gets more physical stress and medical issues in the long run. Who balances such values? The Market?

    Apart from justifiable compensation for disproportionate amounts of education, training, danger, etc. involved, there is no logical, rational reason one human being should be paid more than another.

    Apart from one’s own sense of personal inferiority, that is. The serf mentality. Let the Great Men take their due.

  10. cemmcs Says:

    The guy sweeping the floor at JP Morgan/Chase deserves the same pay package as the CEO.

    Which one deserves to be paid less?

  11. Anonymous Says:

    sweet! now scientists suddenly have again become the model for doing important and hard work. (now that reality has called the managers’ bluff)

    does that mean that our salaries will be raised and our career paths made more secure? pretty please?

    let us at least invest in education – that way, more people will understand the arcane concept of “growing income (and wealth) disparity”.

    Alas, meritocracy was only invented to justify cleptocracy – and really committed scientist do not actually need ludicrous amounts of money (for the brief excursions outside of the lab, anyway 😉

    regards
    andreas

  12. Anonymous Says:

    sweet! now scientists suddenly have again become the model for doing important and hard work. (now that reality has called the managers’ bluff)

    does that mean that our salaries will be raised and our career paths made more secure? pretty please?

    let us at least invest in education – that way, more people will understand the arcane concept of “growing income (and wealth) disparity”.

    Alas, meritocracy was only invented to justify cleptocracy – and really committed scientist do not actually need ludicrous amounts of money (for the brief excursions outside of the lab, anyway 😉

    regards
    andreas

  13. Kurt Says:

    Ted,

    I work in local government and spend 70-80 hours making sure that unskilled people have a place to find a job. I have a BA and an MA, bust my ass and have for years. I am required to be creative, diligent, responsible (for millions of dollars of tax payer money) and fair. There is a great guy here who empties the trash, sweeps the floor, etc. Nice guy… I think a lot of him. He makes roughly 1/3 of what I do. I am 2 steps down from City Manager. Making 400x the guy that sweeps the floor is obscene.. I agree, but that said, I have student loans and have spent my life reading so I can do what I can do. The guy that sweeps the floor didn’t go to high school, doesn’t supervise anybody, doesn’t have any personal liability for his decisions and while he is a nice guy, reads at an 2nd grade level. He makes what is considered a middle class income (about $30k) and I make a middle class income (about 90k). He works 40 hours, I work 75-80, so hourly the gap closes. I am not allowed to moonlight, he is. You add in the fact that I have a $350 a month student loan payment until 3 years before I reach retirement age and the much higher tax bracket I am in, and he and I don’t make that much different per hour salaries. I think that people who take more responsibility, have more expensive education and who are required to create deserve some more than those who don’t. 400x is excessive. 20x for a CEO, maybe not.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Oh my, Ted. You’ve really killed some good points on the exponentially excessive CEO compensation with the end of your column.

    I, for one, work (as an editor) with people who don’t “work hard,” are lazy, unskilled, and whose poor approach to their work makes my job harder. Because I’m in the journalism business, I don’t make too much more than they do. (Maybe $8,000 a year?)

    But the notion that all people should receive equal compensation regardless of training, skill and effort — that’s comically ridiculous. And it has never been nor will ever be reality.

    You give liberalism a bad name with statements like that.

  15. Incitatus Says:

    I won’t address the economic lunacy of the last paragraph (that “rancid” notion isn’t exclusively American, you know), but while you’re capping CEO pay why not go the whole hog and cap the pay of professional sports players, top journalists and entertainers? Might as well cap semi-retired politicians’ speaking fees.

    Now, about Chris Dodd: what a fine specimen of a thouroughly shameless douchebag!

  16. Anonymous Says:

    I don’t think everybody should make the same… but as I can attest from own experience people that are paid higher usually dont work harder and often even less then manual/lower grade workers.

    If CEOs are compensated with high salaries for taking the responsibility for decisions , they should stand in with their private wealth if they screw them up. If you or your industry fails, you loose everything, just as the worker at the bottom of the food chain. They could still earn it back a lot faster in the next job…

  17. G. M. Palmer Says:

    Easy, Ted — the jobs require radically different levels of training. We pay for specialization, not necessity. Anyone (including the CEO) can sweep floors. It’s unlikely that the floor-mopper can govern the corporation, especially if the CEO is competent.

    Of course, current business-bashing may make this a little murky. Perhaps the floor-sweeper at a Mayo clinic and an oncologist would be a better comparison.

    At any rate, the only reason the floor-sweeper has a job is because the CEO or oncologist or whoever would rather pay someone to sweep than do it themselves.

    So the work, in fact, is not equally necessary. Indeed all work done by someone who is not the owner of a company only exists only because the owner would rather pay someone to do the work.

  18. Ted Rall Says:

    Obviously no one should have to take out student loans to go to college. The current hierarchical salary system relies on the promise of high pay in the future for graduates from professional schools.

    In my experience, most people are motivated to work hard absent financial incentive. They do it because it gives them purpose, and because they like their jobs.

    If you’re smarter and more skilled than other workers, that’s just good luck. Speaking as one who earns an income that is significantly higher than average, I know all about good luck.

  19. onetwothree Says:

    *Obviously no one should have to take out student loans to go to college.*

    Obviously, people who work a trade or just do unskilled labor should subsidize their academically-inclined countrymen’s college careers. Fairly obvious, that.

    Government is nothing more than a transfer of money from you to me. The only “obvious” thing is that people are greedy everywhere. At least (most) CEOs are just stealing from their shareholders, and not from me. I don’t have any stock.

  20. Susan Stark Says:

    >>>The guy sweeping the floor at JP Morgan/Chase deserves the same pay package as the CEO.>>>

    The guy sweeping the floor deserves to be paid MORE than the ceo. Can you imagine what the floor would look like if it wasn't cleaned? And should there even be such a position as "ceo"?

  21. Susan Stark Says:

    >>>The guy sweeping the floor at JP Morgan/Chase deserves the same pay package as the CEO.>>>

    The guy sweeping the floor deserves to be paid MORE than the ceo. Can you imagine what the floor would look like if it wasn't cleaned? And should there even be such a position as "ceo"?

  22. Anonymous Says:

    This is why America needs big cars with lots of steel and tempered, tinted glass and strong door locks between the haves and the have-nots. Back to chrome-plated, metal bumpers! Forget the ‘green’ geek-mobiles with Obama stickers plastered all over, so easy to tip over by furious citizens and illegal immigrants at every stop light. If only America would stop fighting the inevitable. We need to once more produce 1950’s-sized automobiles that use four gallons to the mile. We need a major land war in Iran. We CAN, and we WILL, replace “Let’s Remember Pearl Harbor” with “Let’s Remember Nineeee-Elevennnnn.” And Obama might lose a few votes, but we need to round up all the Muslims and put them in temporary camps in remote areas until this War Against Terror is resolved. However, unlike the Japanese-Americas after WWII, the Muslim-Americans will remain in permanent detention (The Bush-Cheney Doctrine).

  23. Anonymous Says:

    This is why America needs big cars with lots of steel and tempered, tinted glass and strong door locks between the haves and the have-nots. Back to chrome-plated, metal bumpers! Forget the ‘green’ geek-mobiles with Obama stickers plastered all over, so easy to tip over by furious citizens and illegal immigrants at every stop light. If only America would stop fighting the inevitable. We need to once more produce 1950’s-sized automobiles that use four gallons to the mile. We need a major land war in Iran. We CAN, and we WILL, replace “Let’s Remember Pearl Harbor” with “Let’s Remember Nineeee-Elevennnnn.” And Obama might lose a few votes, but we need to round up all the Muslims and put them in temporary camps in remote areas until this War Against Terror is resolved. However, unlike the Japanese-Americas after WWII, the Muslim-Americans will remain in permanent detention (The Bush-Cheney Doctrine).

  24. Angelo Says:

    incitatus,

    I think that in saying equality is impossible, some conservatives have made the mistake that inequality is actually ok.

    This tendency reveals something.

  25. Anonymous Says:

    Perhaps we should have put a cap on DEMOCRAT Franklin Raines $90 million salary before he ran Fannie Mae into the ground while being defended by DEMOCRAT Barney Frank and DEMOCRAT Chris Dodd. Or maybe we should have capped the salary of DEMOCRAT Robert Rubin before he went to work for CitiGroup.

    Robert Rubin, DEMOCRAT, received over $17,000,000 in compensation from Citigroup and a further $33,000,000 in stock options as of 2008.

    Let’s look at some quotes from the brain-trusts on the left:

    Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.): “The more people, in my judgment, exaggerate a threat of safety and soundness, the more people conjure up the possibility of serious financial losses to the Treasury, which I do not see. I think we see entities [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] that are fundamentally sound financially and withstand some of the disaster scenarios.”

    Franklin Raines, former head of Fannie Mae: “These assets are so riskless that their capital for holding them should be under 2%.

    Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.): “Through nearly a dozen hearings, where frankly we are trying to fix something that wasn’t broke, Mr. Chairman, we do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac and in particular at Fannie Mae under the outstanding leadership of Mr. Frank Raines.”

    Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.): “And my worry is that we’re using the recent safety and soundness concerns, particularly with Freddie, and with a poor regulator, as a straw man to curtail Fannie and Freddie’s mission.”

    Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.): “Mr. Chairman, we do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac, and in particular at Fannie Mae, under the outstanding leadership of Mr. Frank Raines. Everything in the 1992 act has worked just fine. In fact, the GSEs have exceeded their housing goals.”

  26. Anonymous Says:

    It’s pretty self-evident that “owners” only have “companies” because other people show up to do all the actual work for them.

  27. Anonymous Says:

    Ted, you glanced at the main point regarding why the gap between the CEO and the rest of the company has spread so wide. Most CEOs receive a salary that, by itself, would probably be close to the 40X number you mention.

    What has changed is the proliferation of stock options in what had been an unprecedented bull market. CEO salaries didn’t make any dramatic moves, but the number (and value) of stock options did. As a bonus, they didn’t have to be accounted for using traditional accounting methods, making them an invisible cost (except to shareholders, whose holdings continued to be diluted).

    What you’ll see for the next year or two (possibly longer) is CEO total compensation revert to the 40X norm, as stock compensation becomes (or has become) worthless, leaving only base salary and maybe a bonus. For things to really regain some sanity, you’d have to get BODs to rein in stock-based compensation.

    The idea that every job has an equal worth and that humans generally are happy to do different jobs for equal pay is a lovely idea, but totally incompatible with humanity (sort of like communism).

  28. Orville Says:

    I favor the maximum wage approach mentioned earlier. It’s a great idea- and would save many corporations millions.

    Of course, the idea that people work at jobs because they like it is also untrue. While I like some aspects of my current job (Restaurant worker (i.e. Cashier, Cleaner, Food Deliverer, Jack of all Trades)) such as working with customers and making them happy, I dislike the high stress environment and the disincentivization of initiative. I’d be much happier if I could get a job in a library. Alas, I don’t have a bachelor’s degree yet to work as a technician.

  29. Anonymous Says:

    I think that in saying equality is impossible, some conservatives have made the mistake that inequality is actually ok.

    This tendency reveals something.

    Angelo,
    Conservatives do not believe inequality is OK. They believe that you do not have a right to equal outcomes.

  30. Anonymous Says:

    It’s pretty self-evident that “owners” only have “companies” because other people show up to do all the actual work for them.
    And it’s also “pretty self-evident” that workers have a company to go to because some entrepreneur took a risk to start the company.

  31. G. M. Palmer Says:

    Or it’s pretty obvious that workers only have jobs because an owner (that is, the capital) is there to create one.

    Otherwise it’s back to subsitance farming for us all.

    Or do you folk not understand division of labor?

  32. Anonymous Says:

    From 1995 to 2008 in general, and from 2003 to 2005 specifically, it’s pretty obvious what contemporary Republicans do when they get into power. And what they do is give away the store and facilitate various disasters. Why America forgave them for 9-11 is a mystery to me, but Katrina was the last straw, and the New Depression is just a big bonus. Conbots parroting talking points about how everything is all the Democrats’ fault, as if it’s still 1980, are not convincing anybody. Nobody even bothers to read it, guys.

  33. Anonymous Says:

    From 1995 to 2008 in general, and from 2003 to 2005 specifically, it’s pretty obvious what contemporary Republicans do when they get into power. And what they do is give away the store and facilitate various disasters. Why America forgave them for 9-11 is a mystery to me, but Katrina was the last straw, and the New Depression is just a big bonus. Conbots parroting talking points about how everything is all the Democrats’ fault, as if it’s still 1980, are not convincing anybody. Nobody even bothers to read it, guys.

  34. Owen Says:

    You socialists just don’t know when to stop. You just can’t allow people to chart their own course and make their own fortunes. Just because leftists are bitter and hopped up on anti-depresents doesn’t give them the right to decide who is allowed to make more or less money.

    Life isn’t fair, and the sooner lefties understand that the better off we’ll all be. I don’t want a damn thing handed to me. I’ll work for it, thank you.

  35. Anonymous Says:

    If I might make a comparison to college football, where the head coach is essentially the CEO of the team…

    Florida’s Urban Meyer commands close to $4 million a year. On the surface that seems ridiculous; all he does is coach football. His graduate assistants might clear $13,000 when all is said and done, even if they do most of the real work, like calling, planning, etc.

    So is it fair for the income gap to be so high? Why would Florida pay him such a sum? It’s because if they didn’t, someone else would. Someone else would realize that no other coach (or no coach outside that upper echelon of coaches who make such exorbitant salaries) can do what Meyer does. He keeps his job, and its associated ridiculous pay, as long as he keeps winning big.

    A CEO who can inspire employees, prophetically see the company’s future and craft an appropriate vision, and do all the millions of things required to make a company great, is a rare commodity. Supply and demand–and in this case demand (companies who want to make money) vastly exceeds supply (CEOs who can do it).

    A few years back Ben and Jerry’s tried to cap executive pay, which I find extremely admirable. But they quickly found themselves losing executives to companies that did not. Was that the execs’ fault? Did they behave too greedily when they left a good company for one that paid more? Maybe, but as so many other posters have said, it’s the way it works.

    I like my job. I also get paid around $30k a year, which sometimes seems absurd compared to the amount of work and responsibility I hold. Would I leave my company for the same job somewhere else, offering more money? Perhaps. Perhaps not, since I expect some serious advancement opportunities to come down the pike within this company. And I think I’m part of a good company. For me, for now, it’s enough, if only as a future promise. Not everyone is in the same situation.

    Interesting article. I often disagree with Ted’s conclusions, but his hypotheses always raise intriguing questions.

  36. Anonymous Says:

    The guy sweeping the floor deserves to be paid MORE than the ceo. Can you imagine what the floor would look like if it wasn’t cleaned? And should there even be such a position as “ceo”?

    Susan,
    It takes zero skill to sweep a floor. Did you really need this pointed out to you?

  37. Angelo Says:

    OWEN SAID:
    “I don’t want a damn thing handed to me. I’ll work for it, thank you.”

    Is this the same Owen who works for the Coast Guard.

    I really hope not.

  38. Susan Stark Says:

    >>>And it's also "pretty self-evident" that workers have a company to go to because some entrepreneur took a risk to start the company.>>>

    The "entrepreneur" would not have a company if no one showed up to work for it. Nobody would work at this "entrepreneur's" shitty company if they had a choice to be somewhere else. However, if the company made an interesting product, and was a fun and humane place to be, then there would be an incentive to work there.

    A different way of looking at it, right?

  39. Susan Stark Says:

    >>>And it's also "pretty self-evident" that workers have a company to go to because some entrepreneur took a risk to start the company.>>>

    The "entrepreneur" would not have a company if no one showed up to work for it. Nobody would work at this "entrepreneur's" shitty company if they had a choice to be somewhere else. However, if the company made an interesting product, and was a fun and humane place to be, then there would be an incentive to work there.

    A different way of looking at it, right?

  40. Susan Stark Says:

    >>>Susan,
    It takes zero skill to sweep a floor. Did you really need this pointed out to you?>>>

    Sweeping a floor is not a skilled job, but it is a valuable job. Much more than the so-called "ceo".

  41. Susan Stark Says:

    >>>Susan,
    It takes zero skill to sweep a floor. Did you really need this pointed out to you?>>>

    Sweeping a floor is not a skilled job, but it is a valuable job. Much more than the so-called "ceo".

  42. Susan Stark Says:

    >>>You socialists just don't know when to stop. You just can't allow people to chart their own course and make their own fortunes.>>>

    Halliburton made it's fortune with my tax money. So did Blackwater. Very few companies "make their OWN fortunes" in this world. Even so-called private companies like Coca-Cola use government aid indirectly.

    >>>Life isn't fair, and the sooner lefties understand that the better off we'll all be. I don't want a damn thing handed to me. I'll work for it, thank you.>>>

    Most people in the world work like dogs, and get very little in return for their work. Think of the billion people around the world living on less than a dollar a day. Indeed, life is not fair.

  43. Eric Xodik Says:

    France, France, France! Oh Jesus, I wish we could all be as wonderful as the French… don’t they eat snails? Are they not known for imprecise hygiene? If the French are so goddamn smart how come they all live in igloos?

  44. Owen Says:

    Around the world? I’m talking about the United States. If you want to tour the globe carrying the torch for the down trodden of other countries, have at it. There is enough to do here at home, like defend free enterprise against the evils of socialism that are creeping into our society.

    I’m also not talking about Halliburton and Blackwater. I’m talking about normal Joes like me who just might end up making a million dollars one day (it happens, but you liberals just like to revel in those who don’t make it. You all seem to love the lowest common denominator ((read: the lazy))) If the lefties get their way, being rich will be illegal, and anyone who disagrees with me made and un-person. It sickens me to know that a socialist has been elected to the White House. If we were in bad shape under Bush, we’re doomed now.

    P.S. The guy mopping the floor is probably on parole.

  45. Anonymous Says:

    The “entrepreneur” would not have a company if no one showed up to work for it. Nobody would work at this “entrepreneur’s” shitty company if they had a choice to be somewhere else. However, if the company made an interesting product, and was a fun and humane place to be, then there would be an incentive to work there.

    A different way of looking at it, right?

    Susan,
    It’s obvious why so many hard leftists are all broke. They were not taught, or did not learn simple economics. So they have a choice, stay angry and broke and blame “corporations”, stay angry and become a ward of the state by becoming a government bureaucrat, or take the easy way out and become a tenured college professor and work 4 hours/week.

  46. Anonymous Says:

    Halliburton made it’s fortune with my tax money. So did Blackwater.

    Halliburton make most of their revenue in the oil services sector.

  47. Angelo Says:

    edward said:

    Conservatives do not believe inequality is OK. They believe that you do not have a right to equal outcomes.”

    It’s not that I want you to die, I just don’t think you have the right to live.

  48. G. M. Palmer Says:

    >>>And it's also "pretty self-evident" that workers have a company to go to because some entrepreneur took a risk to start the company.>>>

    The "entrepreneur" would not have a company if no one showed up to work for it. Nobody would work at this "entrepreneur's" shitty company if they had a choice to be somewhere else. However, if the company made an interesting product, and was a fun and humane place to be, then there would be an incentive to work there.

    A different way of looking at it, right?

    Honestly, you couldn’t be more wrong. I have a good friend who owns a business. Until recently, he was the only employee — and he cleared $400,000 a year. Now he has a second employee — so he can go fishin and huntin and spend time with his wife and son. The only reason his new employee has a job is because my friend wants to pay someone to make money for him.

  49. G. M. Palmer Says:

    >>>And it's also "pretty self-evident" that workers have a company to go to because some entrepreneur took a risk to start the company.>>>

    The "entrepreneur" would not have a company if no one showed up to work for it. Nobody would work at this "entrepreneur's" shitty company if they had a choice to be somewhere else. However, if the company made an interesting product, and was a fun and humane place to be, then there would be an incentive to work there.

    A different way of looking at it, right?

    Honestly, you couldn’t be more wrong. I have a good friend who owns a business. Until recently, he was the only employee — and he cleared $400,000 a year. Now he has a second employee — so he can go fishin and huntin and spend time with his wife and son. The only reason his new employee has a job is because my friend wants to pay someone to make money for him.

  50. Anonymous Says:

    > And it's also "pretty self-evident" that workers have a company to go to
    > because some entrepreneur took a risk to start the company.

    There are lots of ways to organize work. Letting a small cabal own most of a "company" and triple-dip off the top in the form of executive salaries, bonuses and dividends is just one way to do it.

    The "entrepreneur" that "took a risk" to acknowledge the basic physical fact that there's work to do in the world could as easily have been a village or a church, but that kind of economics doesn't make you guys all excited about getting rich.

    You're just writing pornography for yourselves.

  51. JonD Says:

    CEO’s are such an easy scapegoat. I understand how angry everyone is with them (rightfuly so) but lets swap CEO with President. Should Obama make the same amount as a Janitor? No. The two jobs are vastly different. I guess one could argue that Obama is the CEO of America so, therefore, it has to be his fault and deserves it.

    How would you feel to be leader of the free world (along with all the stress and pressure that comes with the job, the fate of so many lives hanging in the balance, how nothing you do is the “correct answer” etc) and realize you got paid the same as the janitor?

    The Janitor messes up and forgets to take out trash the room smells.
    If Obama messes up and forgets to take out the trash then society crumbles.

    Yeah, they both deserve the same pay.

  52. Anonymous Says:

    The “entrepreneur” that “took a risk” to acknowledge the basic physical fact that there’s work to do in the world could as easily have been a village or a church, but that kind of economics doesn’t make you guys all excited about getting rich.

    Then why don’t you and a “village” start a business. Perhaps you can start with the village Susan lives in. Let us all know how it goes!

  53. PhoenixM Says:

    Yeah, after this article, I’m about done with Ted Rall.

    I’ve been the floor sweeper, hamburger flipper, etc. But while my fellow floor sweepers and hamburger flippers, after their hard day at work, went home and enjoyed a stress-free evening of drinking six-packs and watching T.V., I was at school busting my butt to earn the education I needed to be something more.

    For years, I was lucky if I got more than 6.5 hours of sleep on a given night. I couldn’t have a girlfriend or any social life to speak of, because there was neither time nor money to do so, as pursuing my education consumed all that I had of both. For all those years, it was my blue-collar coworkers who were living the good life, not me.

    Now, yes, I do make more than money than them – not an extraordinary amount more, but probably at least double. Ted and Susan are quick to say that I shouldn’t be paid more than my former coworkers because the job I do isn’t more valuable than theirs. But rather than ask why it is that I deserve to earn more than them, why aren’t you asking why it is that the blue-collar workers I left behind don’t deserve to earn less than me? In other words: Regardless of what I’m paid for my job, why is it that they deserve to earn as much as I do? Where was their sacrifice of time, money, sleep, lifestyle, and peace of mind? Where was their self-discipline and their willingness to inconvenience themselves for the years it takes to earn a degree?

    And need I waste time explaining that the stress doesn’t end after college? For the most part, when a manual laborer goes home for the evening, his job is done. For those of us in the professional world, however, we have careers instead of jobs, and our work often follows us home. Additionally, the responsibilities that go along with these positions, and the psychological pressures thereof, never quite leave us even when we are at home.

    Some blue-collar workers are quick to say that white-collar workers are lazy. Those of us who have pursued the education necessary to break out of the blue-collar world would say exactly the opposite.

  54. Grouchy Says:

    In my experience, most people are motivated to work hard absent financial incentive. They do it because it gives them purpose, and because they like their jobs.

    How true. And how astonishing that so many of these wage-slave dupes cannot imagine that such motivation is possible.

    It is heartbreaking to think about all of the wasted hours of all the wasted lives of those who buy the big lie…

  55. Anonymous Says:

    50% of the people in Nebraska make less than $11/hour. People making this much money don’t fly the Friendly Skies, don’t buy new GM products and contribute to the economy in no meaningful way. They can, however, buy Chinese junk, beer, tobacco, lottery tickets and pot, which are the only things in this state which sell. Figure it out, Mr. CEO.

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