It is irritating, if not a little bit disturbing, to once again hear the arguments of already highly paid executives talk about "what they are entitled to" as part of a contract they negotiated, or for the sheer value of the work they do. That's exactly the case at AIG, and the goings on there should infuriate every single taxpayer in America. Maybe the government felt it necessary because of AIG's size to bail it out and save it from ruins—I too, wrote that AIG needed to be saved—but now the American people and other companies using AIG's services should consider casting a different vote and putting the company out of our misery after all. It is effectively walking all over us at this point. But it's not the only guilty party out there.
How many times do we have to sit and listen to millionaire executives justify exorbitant paychecks and bonuses while their companies crumble before our very eyes? How many times must we hear the argument that in order to retain good leaders that we must highly compensate them. I ask, with millions of dollars that you apparently don't have? And why is good talent only defined as people making over a million dollars a year? What about the guy at the bottom struggling to make a living? He is as important, if not more important than the guy sitting behind the mahogany desk in a marble-floored penthouse office. He makes the goods or provides the actual services that the company sells.
How often do we hear CEO's stand before their employees and speak to them about having to make sacrifices for the good of the company? You must understand that in times like these, we may have to downsize. That's right, your job is not important. Your future is not important. Your pay is not important. Yours. But they'll still kindly take their $20 million dollar paychecks and bonuses, and thank you very much, while you sit at home after losing your $50,000 a year job for the good of the company.
They say that they can't afford the high cost of health care. They can't afford to offer you a pension plan. They can't afford to match as much on your 401k plan. Yet they can pay out those bonuses worth millions. They can fly corporate jets. All the while they ask every employee to please turn out the lights before they leave the restroom because of course, electricity costs too much. Even the company I currently work for stopped putting my pay stub in an envelope in an effort to save money—even as the top executives were cashing their over $5 million in bonuses that were paid just weeks before filing for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11.
I have long held that CEO compensation is egregious, and totally out of control. While the average worker gets the raw end of the deal time and time again, the top employees of the company lavish themselves with gifts and offerings fit for a king. They win the lottery every single day that they step into the office. And they use terms like you have to do what it takes, and you have to be willing to make sacrifices. You, you, you. Their fingers are always pointing at you. The guy who has to bust his tail for meager earnings, who receives no bonuses for his talents, who gets no perks for his performance, and who, when you fail at your job will be sent packing without so much as a handshake instead of one of those golden parachutes your CEO most certainly will get on his way out.
If nothing else this economic time has highlighted the case that CEO compensation is completely out of whack, and that the executive world is effectively out of touch with the reality that the average American is facing every single day. The fact is that if I can make do with the $85 or so thousand dollars a year that my wife and I bring home together, so can you Mr. CEO.
Back to AIG; I think it should burn to the ground and I'll be looking forward to electronically thumbing through the pages of Craigslist for the ads from it's former executives seeking work. As for the other companies out there? Don't forget who put you in that fancy leather chair to begin with. Each and every one of us average Americans who shell out our hard-earned money to buy your stuff, and who sweat to put it on the shelf!
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