Little need be added to the Los Angeles Times' stinging rebuke in Wednesday's Other Opinions of the fortunes received by corporate executives. But to throw in our two cents worth, we are equally amazed at the CEOs' straight-faced acceptance of such bottomless largesse and even more at the incredible irresponsibility of company board rooms that allow it.
These board members, after all, have the power to say no to CEOS. Their failure to use that power makes them perhaps the most culpable in the scandalous situation that has arisen.
As the Times pointed out, such indulgence of CEOs hasn't fostered better management. It has only enhanced the privileged status assumed by too many bosses, who come to regard company funds as their own personal piggy banks.
There is no way to justify such opulent compensation. Chief executives certainly deserve credit when their businesses are successful. However, to assume they are solely responsible for it and thus entitled to a king's ransom is ridiculously presumptuous. It discounts the contributions of hundreds of thousands of employees who struggle daily to make their companies profitable and efficient.
Worse still, some CEOs easily find ways to enrich themselves even when profits are falling. This is when selfishness often sinks to the level of criminality.
Senior Federal Reserve official William McDonough was correct in asserting that such CEO behavior is immoral. It is also dangerous, because shareholder outrage is weighing down the stock market and stubbing the toe of America's post-recession recovery.
Remedies are on the way. A commission formed by the New York-based Conference Board, a leading business group, is working on an extensive list of recommendations to restore confidence in corporate America. A proposal that emerged Tuesday would require executives to announce in advance when they are planning to sell company stock, so they can't take advantage of inside knowledge. The SEC is also actively pursuing reforms.
We now know how wrong the corporate shark, played by Michael Douglas, was in the movie "Wall Street" was when he declared greed is good. Greed is not good. It is the carrier of an epidemic that sickens everything it infects, including individuals, companies, financial markets and the United States of America.
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