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- iHaveNet.com: Politics
by Cal Thomas
During the 2008 presidential campaign when candidate Barack Obama told "Joe the Plumber" that he wanted to "spread the wealth around," it sounded to a lot of conservatives like socialism: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need," in the words of Karl Marx.
There is a kind of wealth spreading, however, that ought to meet the political litmus test of conservative Republicans, liberal Democrats and radical Independents. At a time of high unemployment, too many layoffs and too few new jobs in the private sector (230,000 jobs were created last month, according to the
USA Today reported last week in a story on CEO compensation that "three-quarters of CEOs got raises -- and, in many cases, the increases were substantial." Employee pay, on the other hand, effectively stalled. Median CEO pay, reported the newspaper, increased 27 percent last year, meaning the average CEO received
Unlike my liberal friends, I don't obsess about how much money other people make. Whatever compensation someone can negotiate is fine with me. Whether a person is "worth" their pay is a subjective matter and open to debate.
The moral issue in executive pay is whether management deserves these high salaries while employees are laid off, or denied pay increases.
Last April the
If I were a CEO being paid such astronomical amounts and people were being laid off, or struggling in a recession, at least in part due to the lack of pay increases, I would feel morally obligated to take less money. I would ask the chief financial officer of my company to share some of my wealth with loyal employees so that they could continue caring for their families.
One doesn't have to be a liberal who believes in income redistribution to see the unfairness in disproportionate pay.
Think of the kudos and favorable press coverage that would come to a corporate chief who shared his wealth, rather than lay off employees. It could change not only the media coverage of big business, but also the way the public perceives the super rich. Heck, some of them might even start voting Republican!
Five CEOs saw a slight decline in compensation, according to the USA Today/GovernanceMetrics international data, but they still earned more than most lottery winners receive.
President Obama has spoken of some of these CEOs as not "needing" the money they get. Again, that is a subjective judgment. What he should be doing is shaming those companies that lay off workers while paying their top management such exorbitant salaries and benefits. Stockholders ought to demand that no competent worker should be laid off if a CEO earns above a certain amount of money. Stockholders also have a moral responsibility beyond the dividends they receive.
Making money is a noble American objective, making a living is a nobler one.
Corporations ought to have enough decency and compassion to make sure no worker is let go solely to increase the bottom line or pad the boss's pockets with more money than he (or she) can ever hope to spend in a lifetime.
Spreading Wealth the Right Way | Politics
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