The New York Times had an article today that contained a quote that infuriated me.
Mr. Reda said only a handful of big companies pay chief executives and other senior executives $500,000 or less in total compensation. He said such limits will make it hard for the companies to recruit and keep executives, most of whom could earn more money at other firms."
So I stopped by Mr. Reda's website and wrote to him what we, the 99% of the workforce that doesn't expect to be paid over $500k a year, know to be true.
Dear Mr. Reda,
On February 4, 2009 I read an article in the New York Times in which you called limiting the pay of executives of companies who receive federal bailout money "draconian - $500,000 is not a lot of money." My occupation is not in business, and I am not an executive but one thing I know is that $500,000 is a lot of money for 99% of the people in this country, not to mention the people of the world.
I found your quote to be out of touch and callus given that so many people are losing their jobs on a daily basis in this country, and all over the world, as a result of the poor management and malfeasance of executives who received obscene salaries for many years prior to the economic downturn. If companies are to survive by the graces of the taxpayers then they need to do so in an economical manner. One of the hallmarks of a good manager is being fiscally responsible. I am loath to see how the decision to pay executives tens of millions of dollars off of government assistance is fiscally responsible. The money from T.A.R.P. is meant to save companies from collapse and to spare the jobs of thousands of people who depend on salaries from these companies. I cannot fathom why people who have been paid tens of millions of dollars a year for the past ten years would need such a large portion of that money for their annual pay and even have the audacity to use any of it for bonuses.
If the executives feel that they can get more pay from other companies then they should go to other firms for employment. The only problem is that I don't see these people as having learned their lesson and the government can only bail out so many companies. At some point, they're going to run out of places to milk for their multi-million dollar salary requirements.
Perhaps you, and the executives who expect to make more than half a million dollars a year, have a different perception of the value of a dollar than the rest of us do? If so, and if $500,000 is such a pittance to you then I urge you to please open your wallet and hand out five of your crispiest Woodrow Wilsons to a family whose income has evaporated and who has only enough money saved up to live on for a month because the executives just couldn't live without a bonus this year. And if you're feeling extra giving, then I urge you to take another five Woodrow Wilsons out of your wallet and use it to feed hundreds of thousands of people in the third world who are starving and have no running water or medicine.
The only thing draconian about this situation, Mr. Reda, is that the human race has seen this pattern before, the rich getting richer while the middle class erode into poverty and those who were already in poverty slide into an abyss only to be forgotten.
I wish you the best of luck in these trying times and I sincerely hope that you don't have to learn the value of a dollar the hard way.