Here's a few examples of the absurd compensation awarded individuals who are not much different than you or I but happen to have CEO after their name.
At the top of the charts we find
Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison, who pulled down $78.4 million; ($25,000.00 an hour)
Bob Iger at Disney, who made $34.3 million; ($11,025.00 an hour)
and Rupert Murdoch at Fox, who received $26.1 million. ($8,365.00 an hour)
Time to rein in grossly overpaid CEOs | Al Jazeera America
Corporate America’s well-oiled compensation machine is running like a dream.
Browse the proxy statements of the nation’s largest corporations and you’ll find the instruction manuals for this apparatus explaining how to finely calibrate the pay of top executives with company performance.
The Coca-Cola board, for example, lays out the formula that set the 2013 cash bonus for Muhtar Kent, its chief executive (base salary x base salary factor x business performance factor). It explains how a failure to achieve certain goals helped limit the bonus to $2 million, but also describes how Mr. Kent got millions more in stock and options. It notes that under his leadership, Coke had “continued to gain value share globally in nonalcoholic ready-to-drink beverages,” and tells shareholders why the board might require him to fly on the company jet (“to allow travel time to be used productively for the Company”). What was all that worth? A tidy $18 million.
At this point, most people have become used to hearing about these bloated pay packages at the top. We’re also used to hearing the rationale from these folks and their boosters about how they are paid what they are worth.
To the contrary, they are grossly overpaid. First, many CEOs were running large successful companies in the 1960s and 1970s for pay that in today’s dollars averaged about one-tenth as much as the current crop of CEOs get. We can also look to Europe, Japan and China and find plenty of successful CEOs of large companies who work for a small fraction of the price of American executives. And there are plenty of CEOs who get these outlandish pay packages even when they drive their companies into the ground.
The relevant question is not how much a CEO contributes to the company. That is not how economics works. After all, how much does the firefighter contribute who rescues three kids from a burning house? We don’t pay our hero firefighters multimillion dollar salaries. We pay firefighters on the basis of how much it costs to hire another firefighter who can also do the job.
The question is how much does the CEO contribute compared with the next person in line for the job? Given the experience of large corporations in other countries, there is every reason to believe that there are lots of next people who could do the job as well or better and for much less. (Anyone who believes that CEO pay actually reflects the CEO’s value to the company should read Lucien Bebchuk’s outstanding book, Pay Without Performance.)
The problem here is grounded in the corruption of the corporate governance structure. In principle, CEOs should be treated like any other employee. Companies should ask if they can get away with paying them less or getting a lower-cost CEO of the same caliber in Germany or China.