Wednesday, December 19, 2007

CEOs are real people, too?

Welcome to a special MythBusters-themed installment of the CSM! Jamie and Adam can't be here today, largely because we're fairly certain that they don't even know we exist, but we are going to take some inspiration from them in discussing today's news story.

The first "myth" that we're going to examine is whether or not CEOs are paid too much money.

Well, we would do some experiments here, in order to come to a good conclusion, but we're just going to skip ahead to the results. And, in most cases, our myth is proven, which we're sure shocks just a couple of people out there. True, there are top executives who are paid exactly appropriately for their workload, the type of business that they run, etc. But there are also those who proceed to rake in large profits and larger stock options, while their employees struggle to make ends meet. So yes, in many cases, saying that CEOs get paid too much money is akin to saying that the government passes laws.

Now that we've cleared the air with that, let's move on to our next myth. The subject of our second "myth", and the root story for our post today, is that there are actually CEOs out there who agree that top executives get paid too much.

This is where it gets interesting. In a recent study, almost two-thirds of CEOs polled believe that their own compensation is too high. Naturally, this is lower than the number of average employees who feel the same thing, but that fact that over half admitted to it in an online poll definitely shines some interesting light onto the whole issue. In fact, the numbers could be used by executives to claim that they are actually burdened by how much money they get paid, and if only they could truly experience at least one month of living paycheck to paycheck. But no, they are merely cogs in the machine, who have been forced to accept lavish gifts, high wages, and inflated stock options merely because of their titles.

Of course, we can't expect that any of these CEOs who have claimed to feel overcompensated to adjust and correct their own wages accordingly. If asked, they would probably claim that they were beholden to whatever their particular board of directors decided their wages should be. And, we think it's safe to assume, if their compensation was brought back into line with what the majority would deem "appropriate", a fair number of them just might depart for greener pastures.

There are also those cynics out there who would believe that CEOs would answer this poll in such a way to help them look better in the eyes of the average worker, without actually meaning what they claimed. Of course, the curtain of anonymity keeps any true motives from being discovered.

And that's exactly why we will refer to this "myth" as plausible. It's not like the myth revolved around whether politicians will voluntarily accept less pay.

That's been categorically busted a number of times.

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