WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Top executives at major businesses last year made as much money in one day of work on the job as the average worker made over the entire year, according to a report released on Wednesday.
Chief executive officers from the nation’s biggest businesses averaged nearly $11 million in total compensation, according to the 14th annual CEO compensation survey released jointly by the Institute for Policy Studies based in Washington and United for a Fair Economy, a national organization based in Boston.
At the same time, workers at the bottom rung of the U.S. economy received the first federal minimum wage increase in a decade. But the new wage of $5.85 an hour, after being adjusted for inflation, stands 7 percent below where the minimum wage stood a decade ago.
Yeah, but the lion and antelope can’t debate the merits of their relationship and work rationally to establish a more mutually beneficial social order. I still think social Darwinism is a BS rationalization for unnecessary and unjustifiable economic inequities. Ultimately, the idea that there is some kind of “natural order” in which people can screw each other with a clear conscience doesn’t work for me.
I don’t think the difference is justifiable. I think it’s the result of humans not effectively using their reason to solve social problems. I have, of course , lots of ideas for better ways things could be done, but I won’t claim the problems are easy to fix or even, necessarily, totally solvable. And while I do some things to help directly, I also won’t claim I’ve fulfilled even my own sense of obligation to contribute to fixing these problems, much less the level of commitment others have shown to doing so. But none of this implies that the injustice is natural, in the sense of ethically right or inevitable, as you seem to imply in your original post.
I believe injustice is natural. Sad, but natural. I think most people try to contribute something positive to the society (the CEOs included), but we will only give as much and as long as we can maintain our desired level of comfort. And we’ll use reason to solve any problems only when we’ll find it possible and convenient. None of us would have questioned slavery two thousands ago. Morals and reason evolve. At present, there are not enough individuals who have mutated and have been adopted by natural selection to follow Dr. Albert Schweitzer, for example. Maybe one day, but I sincerely doubt it.
I found your comparison to the poor and hungry to be very apt, but it doesnt dimminish (nor justify) the exploitation being carried out by corporate executives, and there is nothing natural about it. And, even if (and thats a big if) you could show that it was natural, it doesnt make it acceptable or beyond our means to change. And the same goes for the hungry and the poor - plus many other issues.
I am not talking about a Utopia. Im talking about addressing our Dystopia(s).
You would no more accept the response of “C’est la vie” to a gross injustice done to you or your family as anyone else.
Your husband died in the World Trade Center attack on September 11th? C’est la vie!
Your grandfather was killed at Auschwitz? C’est la vie!
Your brother starved under the sanctions regime in Iraq? C’est la vie!
Your child died of starvation in Africa while the World Bank bragged about “investment returns”? C’est la vie!
Your 80 year grandparents dont get enough welfare to afford their prescriptions? C’est la vie!
“We have today the technical and material resources to meet man’s animal needs.We have not developed the cultural and moral resources or the democratic forms of social organization that make possible the humane and rational use of our material wealth and power.
Conceivably, the classical liberal ideals as expressed and developed in their libertarian socialist form are achievable. But if so, only by a popular revolutionary movement, rooted in wide strata of the population and committed to the elimination of repressive and authoritarian institutions, state and private. To create such a movement is a challenge we face and must meet if there is to be an escape from contemporary barbarism.” - Noam Chomsky in the Government in the Future
I am not crazy, TA. I’ll respond C’est la vie! to terrifying things only when I feel hopelessly defenseless: my own mortality, lion munching on an antelope, CEO making millions, etc. I would never say C’est la vie! to 9/11, for example. 9/11 didn’t have to happen. But I feel that the lion doesn’t have a choice, and somehow neither does the CEO. We tried communism and it didn’t work, remember?
no, youre not crazy. though you got a great sense of humor.
but it is absurd to say CEOs have no choice in making 300 times the average worker. that would be akin to me saying that I have no choice but to hog all the food at the dinner table while leaving very little for the rest.
also, im not necessarily talking about communism. libertarian socialism is not communism - or at least not the authoritarian perversion the Bolsheviks put in place - and when and where it was instituted it was usually a bitter enemy to communism (certain places in Spain, Ukraine, Russia, Germany and other parts of Europe and the Americas). what im talking about is participation in the management of our affairs; the leveling of the playing field.
I suspect that what you refer to as communism is nowhere near the libertarian socialism I said I agree whole-heartedly with.
I don’t think it matters what you call it. Once people stop to compete (or are limited and controlled in their efforts), everything goes to hell. The successful individuals will start to produce less – why shouldn’t they, since their success would be controlled and limited? The poor ones will stop at once engaging in any effort to trying to survive – again, why wouldn’t they?; the successful ones will share their success with them. I see any kind of socialism as naive and quite dangerous.
truthaddict - 29 August 2007 03:52 PM
but it is absurd to say CEOs have no choice in making 300 times the average worker
Why? Don’t forget his wife is probably 300 times more attractive than the average worker’s.
The successful individuals will start to produce less – why shouldn’t they, since their success would be controlled and limited? The poor ones will stop at once engaging in any effort to trying to survive – again, why wouldn’t they?; the successful ones will share their success with them. I see any kind of socialism as naive and quite dangerous.
With certain limitations, the successful persons won’t start to produce less: they (CEOs) pay taxes and they don’t feel that this, although terrible unfair, is a limitation for their efforts.
Despite the fact that I am skeptical about that certains CEOs could be called ‘sucesfull’ (maybe Bill Gates or Larry Ellison could be called sucessful, but former Enron CEO?... ), I think that there is a trouble with this economical organization: the lion cannot be vegan, but we could improve our organization . I wouldn’t regulate the CEOs salaries, I think the trouble is the short term in the CEO lifecycle. A typical CEO only holds a position for a few years (five is a typical number). He/she knows, the stockholders know, all the employees and CEOs wannabe know. Their succes is not to make the company more succesful, is to raise the stock price to increase their wealth. Sometimes, increase the stock price has nothing to do with create real wealth or make real contributions to our life standard, and sometimes, to increase the stock price is convenient to do things that are far from convenient to the rest of us. I think it is the big problem, not the high CEO salary. I disagree with Milton Friedman claiming that anything that is good to companies is ultimately good for the society. We should find a reward schema more aware of the long term, at least, if we want to survive.
I think that competition is very important to progress, because we all want to receive benefits for our ideas and efforts, but the competition cannot be unlimited if we can keep having a society.
I see any kind of socialism as naive and quite dangerous.
knowing our labor history, how people lived before and after the achievements of those Socialists who fought for things like minimum wage, eight-hour work day, etc, I have to strongly disagree.
knowing what I know about Anarchist-controlled Spain and Ukraine, I would have to disagree.
Knowing what I know about how life dramatically changed under the Sandinistas, I would have to disagree.
George, I strongly agree with the criticisms as it relates to authoritarian communism. Michael Bakunin, the Russian anarchist, was a bitter critic of Karl Marx and his popular brand of socialism (which I think you are referring to; that and Bolshevism):
“I detest communism because it is the negation of liberty and I cannot conceive anything human without liberty. I am not a communist because communism concentrates all the powers of society and absorbs them into the State, because it leads inevitably to the centralization of property in the hands of the State, while I want to see the State abolished. I want the complete elimination of the authoritarian principle of state tutelage which has always subjected, oppressed, exploited, and depraved men while claiming to moralize and civilize them. I want society, and collective or social property, to be organized from the bottom up through free association and not from the top down by authority of any kind…. In that sense I am a collectivist and not at all a communist.”
How do we effect the gross difference between CEO and workers pay? To “be organized from the bottom up through free association and not from the top down by authority of any kind.” Again, I do not - nor does Bakunin - advocate chaos, disorder or disorganization. Rather, to be organized from the bottom up. If we are organized top down - as our economy is - then you will see such gross forms of exploitation.
top down authority has always ended with corruption and exploitation. you dont have to get rid of competition if you run things from the bottom up.
the top-down form of political government has shown to be oppressive. it is more than equally true in case of economics.
Well, but let me skeptic about the real posibility of a democratization in economy. The things in business and economics are quite dificult. I mean, it is not rocket science, but I have no problems to admit that the average decisition taken in a management meeting deals with a lot of things that are far from the education received for the guy who is moving boxes in the warehouse.
Let me be raw: the wareshouse guy would understand that the manager earns more than he beacuse the manager wrong decision could cost to the company far more than his wrong decisition?. Or he/she would understand that we should buy an expensive equipment in order to mantain us in the market and that this prevents us to raise salaries?. Maybe this sounds terrible, but I think that the democracy to be sucessful needs a lot of educated persons (please, don’t understand that I think that there is anything innate in the people’s skill, I think it is a matter of education).
To resume that, I think to democratize the economy is a good idea, but we are far away from being able to put it in practice.