By John Hubbuch
Sunday's Tribune Business Section headlined that the average total compensation package for the executives of the region's 100 biggest publicly teaded compamies was $6.6 million dollars in 2010--an increase of nearly 25% from 2009. Really? Really?
I assume that was based on their companies improving performance, but how could a company not do better than the years that were the worst since the Great Depression? My grandfather gave me candy bars for A's. He would have laughed if I had asked for a candy bar for a D arguing, "But Pop I made an F last semester."
Let's be honest how hard is it to run a big iconic corporation. James Skinner ,top dog at McDonald's, made almost $9 million selling fatty and sugary food that many of us are addicted to. Miles White at Abbott Labs made $25 million making valves and stents to save the hearts ruined by McDonald's fatty sugary addictive products. How hard is it to sell stuff that people have to buy? I don't get it.
All this bull is justified by the hallowed system of capitalism. You know the Invisible Hand, supply-and-demand, the wisdom of the markets. Blah,blah,blah. The same justifications are used to cut rich people's taxes and subsidies to oil companies. The reality of course is that executive compensation at these monster corporations is set by the boards of directors who are or were executives of other monster corporations! Talk about group think. It's like having a bunch of alcoholics meeting to decide how many beers a day would be excessive.
The bottom line: Does anyone seriously believe that it would have made the slightest difference to Chicago's biggest companies if the geniuses that run them made $3.3 million dollars on average last year instead of the $6.6 million they actually averaged?