Too often lately we’ve heard something like – I take obscene amounts of money from those who choose to trust the corporation that hired me because I have a “position” and am entitled – from people in positions of privilege.
Is this statement just greed or is it an inherent feeling of entitlement?
Not too long ago, I listened to a discussion of recently published research; “How Wealth Reduces Compassion” from Scientific American. It appears that the richer one is the less s/he cares about others (and when there is care, it’s a self aggrandising type of caring – buildings named after the donor, foundations carrying the donor’s name etc.). That the wealth is inherited or earned seems to make no difference.
The more the wealth the less the compassion.
At a seminar a few years back, a university professor said he once had a mixed class of engineering and business students. He held a discussion about ethics. The engineers debated what ethics should govern and when; the business students wondered what the fuss was all about. It seems that those who become successful in business don’t pick up compassionate ethics along the way
It has been recently reported that North American Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) earn 200 – 300 times the average worker’s pay. This has increased from about 25 times in 1964 with most of the increases occurring since 1990.
In the early 2000s I read a book “Barbarians at the Gate”. It dealt with the take over of Nabisco. Banks, lawyers and financiers lined up to make money from the take over. Greed by way of fees was taking over.
The value of the company changed not because of what they produced, but because of the competition to purchase it. In the end, probably the only person who came out with a bag of cash was the CEO – someone who was really only hired help.
During the recent Banking crisis in the US, CEOs used the fact that their bank got bail out money as reason to qualify themselves for bonuses basically saying “there’s money there and I’m entitled to a chunk of it.”.
A number of charities pay their CEOs well over $350,000. (One reported their compensation package 5 years ago was $2.7 million). People give to many of these charities to help those less fortunate, not to assist those who feel “entitled” because of a position.
CEOs are hired help. They are compensated in cash and stock (including options). The intent of stock options is to tie the CEOs compensation to performance. However, it has been argued (and I believe successfully) that they encourage short term blips vs long term company health.
Granted CEOs are highly intelligent people who exhibit wisdom in their decisions. They should be compensated. In Japan, the ratio is 16 time the average wage. It is probable that the 25-time ratio as in 1965 was and still is reasonable.
We probably all feel entitled to something, but should not that entitlement be tempered by compassion?
CEOs have benefited from education and wisdom collected and created by the many who came before. Although they work hard, it’s only work. Many below them in the corporate ladder work equally as hard. Earnings should be reasonable, not an entitlement because of position.
There are people who deserve to be better off than others. Basing a society on taking from those who perform and giving to those who don’t has been tried and did not succeed. However, entrusting our future to “entitled” “uncompassionate” people also is not a platform for success.
Surely, without selling the farm, modern society can devise a system of management that can assist those who need assistance and reward those who have earned the reward yet still maintain the harmony and compassion required for a functioning society. Maybe maybe ethics with less entitlement can be worked into the system again.