In today’s Leader-Post there’s two columns, one by the Financial Post’s Michael den Tandt headlined “Stop Your Whining About CEO Incomes” and another by John Gormley “CEO Salaries: Fear, Loathing & Envy”, on the growing fury of average Canadians with the astronomical compensation that CEOs are raking in.
While most Canadians have had to contend with a good decade or more of relatively stagnant incomes and, for many, a growing debt load, CEOs have seen their earnings (salary, bonus & stock options) skyrocket into the seven and even eight-figure range. That’s right, we’re talking tens of millions a year.
The issue got major play just after new year’s when the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives launched Clash for Cash — a real-time counter which measures the income accumulated by the Elite 100 CEOs in comparison with typical Canadian workers so far in 2012. From earning 105 times more than the typical worker in 1998, the CEOs now earn 189 times more.
Both den Tante and Gormley are flaming right-wingers, and as you can likely judge from the headlines attached to their columns, they saw nothing wrong with the extremely large (and growing) disparity between the corporate economic elite and the rest of us. Both dismissed Canadians’ concerns by saying we were simply envious of the CEOs because of their tremendous success, and far from hassling them we should worship the ground they walk on (or words to that effect) lest they take their talents elsewhere because they were the true wealth generators in our society.
To give Gormley credit, while I don’t think I’m envious of the CEOs, he did get the other two adjectives right: I do feel fear because the economic system we have now that permits such gross self-enrichment for a select few is killing our planet and severely imperilling our future; and I feel loathing too, both toward the system we live in that facilitates such greed, and toward those people (“our best, brightest and most productive” is how Gormley described them) who ruthlessly exploit the system with no regard for the rest of humanity.
For more on the fear thing, here’s a link to an interview I did with Linda McQuaig a few months ago about a book she and Queens law professor Neil Brooks wrote called The Trouble With Billionaires.