I’ve heard the same baloney many times: “We need to offer ‘competitive’ salaries to executives in order to attract ‘top talent.'” This reasoning was offered up recently, not by some corporation lining the pockets of executives while workers lose their homes, but by the California State University system, which doled out significant raises to the incoming presidents of three campuses before they even spent one day on the job.
This was simultaneous to raising tuition and cutting class availability for students. The “best talent”. Riiiiiiight. Let’s look at what the “best talent” has done. They’ve driven companies into the ground, killed manufacturing where it might have survived the outsourcing onslaught, lost many billions in investor funds, cheated on taxes (both corporate and personal), lobbied (both legally and illegally) to get their cheating legalized, and when it was finally suggested that it might be best to move on, they took huge “golden parachute” packages with them, even as the corporations they had headed burned to the ground.
University presidents and the organizing bodies above them have raised tuition by stunning amounts while eliminating many basic education options and, in many ways, “dumbing down” the education offered by their schools. Faced with tough realities like budget cuts from the state, they never miss an opportunity to pass the pain straight to the students while protecting their own salaries and benefits.
That’s what the “top talent” has brought. What the hell would “medium talent” bring????
Here’s the problem. The world of executives has jettisoned the world of ordinary people. It’s now its own planet with its own logic, its own motivations, its own criteria for success, and its own, self-determined reward system.
Back here on Earth, I have known SO many people who were SO much better than this in SO many ways. These people are not driven by “success” or money. They are driven by a passion for their work and for accomplishing something real in this world.
These people, almost by definition, aren’t motivated by money. Yes, of course they need and want money in order to survive or maybe even live comfortable lives, but they wouldn’t “sell their souls” for more money. If the salaries the top executive positions were severely cut and limited, what kind of people would be attracted to these positions?
People who CARED ABOUT THEM! I have several educators in my family. They are all highly intelligent. Do you think they took on those careers for the money? Especially decades ago? Not a chance. They did this because they had something to give, and when you have something to give and you can’t give it, it hurts you inside.
We need the promises of marketing departments to actually come true. We need executives who are passionate about doing something good for our world, or even for some product line, but not just for enriching themselves monetarily.
Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.