The Washington Post’s weekend piece on executive income driving income disparity for the last generation or two is important and laudable, but also a little mystifying. The article ponders the great mystery of why executive pay has lapped employee pay so badly. It reminds of a dirty joke about why dogs do some of the things they do. The answer is the same: Because they can.
That, of course, raises the issue the Post wrestles with, which is, well, why are executives doing it now – or for the last four decades – in ways they didn’t before? A cultural explanation is given, but I don’t buy it. “Executives,” or owners have always tried to get away with everything they could. Just ask medieval lords about their serfs, or American robber-barons about their company towns. This is nothing new. What has changed is that lately even publicly owned companies are no longer controlled by shareholders who have the company’s long-term health at heart. More and more, they’re now controlled by the elites who sit on their boards and appoint other board members and decide on compensation packages.
No surprise, then, that in the wake of the corporate-income story come two complements worth checking out. The Wall Street Journal reports on yet another big spike in executive compensation. And Mother Jones puts together a phenomenal look at how corporate America is grinding every last ounce of productivity out of you–and cutting you out of a share of the benefits.
Don’t expect this story to get much TV play today–and check back for today’s batch of other Underbuzzed stories later this afternoon.
Follow Senior Producer Jonathan Larsen (@jtlarsen) on Twitter