Green-Eyed Monster

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.

Author: Gregory Beatty

Greg Beatty is a crime-fighting shapeshifter who hatched from a mutagenic egg many decades ago. He likes sunny days, puppies and antique shoes. His favourite colour is not visible to your inferior human eyes. He refuses to write a bio for this website and if that means Whitworth writes one for him, so be it.

15 thoughts on “Green-Eyed Monster”

  1. “Envy” is a funny charge. Making 189 times what the average Joe or Joanette earns is too unfathomable to create “envy”. Keep it in the ball park dude: You “envy” your neighbour’s slick new Audi or slim, trim physique, not an $8.2 million salary. The off-the-mark charge of “envy” almost gives it away that the 1 Percent’s are reading from a prepared list of smackdowns to those of us who simply believe an income gap that huge is simply not in the public good. Simply.

  2. The thing the passive public doesn’t realize is, in many cases, these bonuses are rewarded to the CEO by the board for success in eliminating jobs, wages, and benefits, so “wealth-creators” my flabby white ass.

  3. @ 5 Kidding about what? My ass? It’s not actually that flabby but it has been described as flat. And definitely white. Last thing I heard about Magna is that it was facing bankruptcy and laid of some 700+ employees in Quebec…suddenly its CEO and execs are basking in multi-million dollar bonuses. Though, at least that guy built his own company. I’ll spare you my media industry critique, but I’m sure you’re well aware.

    They’ve successfully turned the working class against itself, now they’re working on the middle class and they’re winning.

  4. I like the sound of this “anonymour” commentator. That’s what they call a secret admirer message board poster in Paris.

    Seriously though, CEO compensation is negotiated by the Board of Directors; a corporate CEO is not the same as a local restauranteur or entrepreneur. Your pay isn’t dependent on your profits. It’s like an athlete who signs a $50/4 year contract who subsequently sucks it on field (like Adam Dunn). You don’t have to perform to earn the money you signed for.

  5. The real issue – as noted in this post, as noted by the CCPA, and as noted by folks who’ve had an interest not just in the Occupy movement but in its underlying motivations – is not simply the dollar amounts of executive compensation. The issue is the widening gap, even in Canada, between top earners and the lower and middle classes. That gap isn’t growing necessarily because upper-level corporate wages are spiralling disproportionately upwards; it’s growing because middle- and lower-class wages have been left to stagnate, rendering those upper-level wages disproportionate.

    This wouldn’t be an issue if wages in the last three decades had gone up remotely proportionately across the board. Moreover, the economy would likely be much stronger, as economic growth is spurred largely by middle-class spending and consumption. Unfortunately, greed is a base urge, short-sighted and stupid, and has left us with an untenable state of affairs. They call it “late-stage capitalism” for a reason.

  6. #10 I see where you’re coming from, but this issue is complex enough without dragging Marxism into it, don’t you think?

  7. #13 Somewhere, Theodor Adorno is smiling.

    p.s. “… the sky is complex enough without the clouds in it.” I like that! I might use it sometime myself. Citing the source, of course.

  8. As of now, the average top 100 Canadian CEO has earned $182,600 in 2012 while the average Canadian worker has earned $870.

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