I was only into the second paragraph of Krugman's column today, when I saw something that caught my attention in a big way.
The article didn’t mention one of Mr. Mozilo’s other distinguishing characteristics: the extraordinary size of his paychecks. Last year Mr. Mozilo was paid $142 million, making him the seventh-highest-paid chief executive in America. (Emphasis mine)
What struck me here, was not just that Mr. Mozilo makes more money in a year than I will ever see in a lifetime, but that he is only the seventh-highest-paid chief executive in America! This means that there are six people in CEO positions who are paid even more.
Why are these people making such ridiculous amounts of money? It absolutely blows my mind to think of people who live in the lap of luxury while most of America hardly has two nickels to rub together.
I believe that if you work hard, you should be rewarded for that, but for me, there is a threshold to how much you can be rewarded without ruining the system of compensation. If a company is busy paying its CEO millions of dollars per year, how much is left over to pay the people who actually do the work to make the company run.
If I were in charge, I'd bring back wage caps: the idea that an executive can't be paid more than X times what the lowest paid worker is paid. This keeps it in a ratio, keeps the pay system in check. If the CEO gets a whopping raise, the people on the bottom should get a whopping raise. Of course, no one would agree to this sort of thing these days, because the whole system is corrupt at this point. We have a government that won't renew health coverage for uninsured children, but is happy to vote for raises for itself. We live in a country that is so blinded by the reward that it no longer considers the hard work that should justify the payout.