The problem is with the governance structure of the corporation. CEO pay is most immediately determined by corporate boards, who largely owe their jobs to top management. Furthermore, keeping their jobs depends almost entirely on keeping other board members happy. Board members who are nominated for re-election win well over 99 percent of the time. Since these jobs typically pay several hundred thousand dollars a year for a few hundred hours of work, board members generally want to keep their jobs.
One sure way of pissing off other board members is asking questions like, “Can we get another CEO who is just as good for half the pay?” It is a safe bet this sort of question is almost never asked in corporate board rooms, even though this is supposed to be precisely the question they should be asking all the time.
This IS the question workers are asking all the time, not that anybody listens to THOSE GUYS. Jesus, it’s not just the base pay and the perks, it’s the severances. If you told me I’d get paid twice my annual salary immediately plus a bunch of stock and my leftover vacation time of which there is 3 months’ worth and I get to keep the really nice car you gave me, do you KNOW how fast I’d get fired?
There’s something broken when our society incentivizes people not to work, we hear over and over and over in relationship to giving out cash to lower-income families so they can, you know, feed their children. Somehow we never quite zero in on the idea that if the head of the company is being paid to do work that most of their underlings and assistants do for them on the off chance they might get promoted, then that’s the same disincentive.
But somehow it only counts when it’s imaginary welfare queens.
Look. Things are bad right now and they ain’t getting no better so long as we continue to pretend there’s no money while we stiff the warehouse floor.