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Author Topic: Occupy Wall Street and the sad state of American protesting
fugu13
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quote:
It's way better than a lottery ticket, I think. You run the risk of having to pay back the base salary (or simply going bankrupt), but for five years you get to enjoy the perks of being a CEO. That could be a good deal for *someone* on the healthcare benefits alone. That's the downside, but the upside, if you manage to turn the company around could be stock options paying off to the tune of billions of dollars.
How many failing companies do you think, if they manage not to fail, could afford to hand out stock options to the tune of billions of dollars? Much less with another of Buffett's proposed rules in place: expensing stock options.

I also don't think you have a remote idea the complexity involved in running a large company, that you're proposing random people come in to run one. I barely have an idea, but the complexity of operations at such large companies is astounding in every way I have approached it.

I think Buffett's design was to be bombastic, to put downward pressure on the pay expectations of companies he acquires significant interests in, and quite possibly to make political points. It's clear in your quotation he wasn't doing anything other than tossing off a bit in a way that would get him in the news. There was no serious analysis behind his "proposal".

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I also don't think you have a remote idea the complexity involved in running a large company, that you're proposing random people come in to run one.
We let random people be president. I don't see too much of a distinction. But, then, you know how I feel about the uselessness of executives in general.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
We let random people be president.
No, we don't. It's pretty hard to take your thoughts on the matter seriously when you say such silly things about the subject. As for the uselessness of CEOs...well, it doesn't seem like your opinions on the matter are based much on evidence, much less experience in business.
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TomDavidson
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No, we really do.
Look at the current candidates for president. Heck, look at last election's. Which of those do you think would be qualified to run Hewlett Packard?

quote:
As for the uselessness of CEOs...well, it doesn't seem like your opinions on the matter are based much on evidence, much less experience in business.
What evidence can you possibly present for the utility of a chief executive that controls for the role of a senior staff?
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Rakeesh
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quote:
No, we really do.
Look at the current candidates for president. Heck, look at last year's. Which of those do you think would be qualified to run Hewlett Packard?

'Bad selection process' isn't the same as random. Regarding the presidency, the biggest factor in attaining the office is, drumroll please, 'political skill'. Now our execution of determining that is obviously far from without flaws, but it's peculiar to suggest that the top politician of our government shouldn't have 'political skill' pretty far up on the list of determining factors.

quote:
What evidence can you possibly present for the utility of a chief executive that controls for the role of a senior staff?
This is merely RRR's 'argument' repackaged. "The staff/advisors do the work." It's just...baffling, the idea that a senior staff of some sort wouldn't be necessary for a vastly complex organization such as a nation or corporation. Just to see where we're standing, Tom-have you ever been a politician or executive, or occupied a position which required a large staff? (The answer to the first question I know, and I suspect my second answer is correct.)

If the answer to both questions is 'no', on what basis do you suggest a chief executive is useless?

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TomDavidson
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Because I have worked for chief executives, and watched them be useless. In fact, never once in my life have I ever worked for a competent executive. That is not to say that my anecdotal experience should be anyone's gospel -- but, rather, that I have never seen an executive make a decision that almost anyone else in the room could not have been equally comfortable making, and/or had not already made. To be frank, I've watched a bunch of glad-handing, golf-playing ninnies lunch their way through company after company while other people clean up their messes and dress up their decisions for them in shiny folders. The idea that these people actually bear any kind of responsibility that justifies their salaries is, in my own experience, laughable. But I'm not attempting to draw some kind of universal conclusion from that, of course.

At the end of the day, they seem to exist because it's harder to take an entire group of appropriately-dressed people out to lunch. [Smile]

Note: I'm not saying these executives are stupid. Far from it. In many cases they're very smart, savvy, and insightful people. But they are not responsible. They do not own their own decisions; they make decisions on behalf of the people who bear the fruits of those decisions, and often in lieu or at the expense of those people. And there is no reason for those people to believe that the CEO makes those decisions for anyone's betterment but the senior staff.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by fugu13:
I also don't think you have a remote idea the complexity involved in running a large company, that you're proposing random people come in to run one.

I'm not proposing "random" people, I've done a search and I don't see where that word came in. I don't think Buffett is either. He's just saying he'd be satisfied with the CEO candidates that would accept draconian conditions in the case of failure, a group that clearly doesn't contain "nobody."

quote:
Originally posted by fugu13:
It's clear in your quotation he wasn't doing anything other than tossing off a bit in a way that would get him in the news. There was no serious analysis behind his "proposal".

I don't think that's clear at all.
As a historically outspoken critic of CEO pay, plus as the person that determines the (relatively modest) pay of his 40 or so CEOs, I think it's clear that he's done plenty of analysis over the years. The performance of his underlings matters a great deal to his shareholders (which would include himself).

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Rakeesh
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Do you remember what your thoughts were on chief executives before you'd worked for any? How many have you worked for, and in how varied a setting of business, geography, etc., and what was your role?

If the answers are what I think they are, you'd straight-up laugh off someone using the kind of experience you're talking about to castigate some other profession, such as teachers, doctors, lawyers, police officers, advertisers, and so on and so forth. But somehow, for chief executives for whom your vision is so narrow (and I don't mean your conclusions), it's OK.

I frankly disbelieve you're not drawing a universal conclusion from your experience. Geeze, Tom, several of the things you've said in this thread-in this post, even-contradict that.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
you'd straight-up laugh off someone using the kind of experience you're talking about to castigate some other profession
Where have I said that I believe my anecdotal experience should be considered representative?
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
quote:
We let random people be president.
No, we don't. It's pretty hard to take your thoughts on the matter seriously when you say such silly things about the subject. As for the uselessness of CEOs...well, it doesn't seem like your opinions on the matter are based much on evidence, much less experience in business.
The irony of his statement is that not only is the presidency rarely random, it's so highly, tightly controlled that we have little say in it at all, but it's anything but random.
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fugu13
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quote:
I'm not proposing "random" people, I've done a search and I don't see where that word came in. I don't think Buffett is either. He's just saying he'd be satisfied with the CEO candidates that would accept draconian conditions in the case of failure, a group that clearly doesn't contain "nobody."
Random in the sense of possessing no particular qualifications; in the sense you brought up with "an unemployed auto-worker or a recent college graduate".

quote:
As a historically outspoken critic of CEO pay, plus as the person that determines the (relatively modest) pay of his 40 or so CEOs, I think it's clear that he's done plenty of analysis over the years. The performance of his underlings matters a great deal to his shareholders (which would include himself).
There's no doubt Buffett walks the walk on basic pay levels, but I don't recall any evidence of him having written a "pay off the last five years' salary if your company fails" clause in any CEO contracts.

Rakeesh: I think Tom's made pretty clear that he's trolling yet again. Little point in attempting to actually nail down a position.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
Where have I said that I believe my anecdotal experience should be considered representative?
"...on what basis do you suggest a chief executive is useless?

Because I have worked for chief executives, and watched them be useless."

That took about five seconds, including pasting and quoting. And before you object, you're sending mixed messages here. On the one hand, you say you feel executives are useless because you've only ever worked with useless executives-their staffs did all of the actual work. Then you go on to say, in so many words, "Well, I'm not saying my anecdotal evidence should count." But it's the only thing you actually bring to the table.

I don't know if you're trolling (I wouldn't be surprised), but your responses sound like someone responding dishonestly, or like someone who validated their own prejudices. I notice you didn't answer my question about what you thought about executives before working with them, and I also don't think you're stupid enough to really believe our presidents are chosen at random.

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fugu13
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Btw, Mucus, I should point out that the random person thing is an aside. You still haven't dealt with the meat of the criticism, which is that the idea wouldn't penalize people who actually caused the fall of a company, most of the time, but instead people guilty of nothing more than being unable to right an overturning ship (a monumental task). Further, if it isn't punishing those responsible, in what way does it give them an incentive not to be irresponsible?
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Mucus
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If I understand him correctly, the idea was that not only the CEO would be penalized but everyone who else was responsible. The CEO (and directors) were only highlighted because of their extraordinary pay, but by no means was the idea that the penalties would stop there.

e.g.
quote:
I think itís enormously important when you get very big financial institutions and maybe in other cases too, well, weíre in a building run by the Keywood Company. Itís the most successful construction company in the world and it has been for decades. Nobodyís ever heard of it but itís huge and itís got a set of management principles and basically it started with Pete Keywood saying that arranging a compensation system so that (when) the company got in trouble not only he went broke but all the people that got him in trouble went broke.
(My emphasis.)
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fugu13
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In that case it really isn't a real proposal. After all, what mechanism would (or could!) be used to determine who, specifically, was responsible for the failure of the company?
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Dan_Frank
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Also it seems like that is still just dodging fugu's main point, which is that by the time a company goes completely belly up there is an excellent chance that those originally responsible will be long gone, so the punishment will fall on the heads of people trying to, as he said, right an overturning ship. Whether this is the CEO's head, the Board's heads, or any other groups, it doesn't really solve this fundamental problem.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
Also it seems like that is still just dodging fugu's main point, which is that by the time a company goes completely belly up there is an excellent chance that those originally responsible will be long gone, so the punishment will fall on the heads of people trying to, as he said, right an overturning ship. Whether this is the CEO's head, the Board's heads, or any other groups, it doesn't really solve this fundamental problem.

You are ignoring Tom's mainpoint. If its impossible to assign responsibility when a company fails, why isn't the converse also true. Why is it reasonable to say that the CEO is responsible when a company succeeds? And if the CEO isn't actually responsible either way, then how can you claim they deserve a huge salary because they have an enormous responsibility?

As for a serious proposal for holding CEOs responsible, I'd suggest that the majority of their compensation should be in terms of stock that they cannot sell until 5 years after they have left the company.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I notice you didn't answer my question about what you thought about executives before working with them...
I started working for executives when I was twelve. I don't think I did think anything about them before that, except maybe, "Oh! Those are people who own suits!"

(As a side note, Rabbit has the right of it. I am attempting to demonstrate that, because it's impossible to pin the failure of a company on a CEO, it's ludicrous to base CEO salaries on the concept that a CEO might be responsible for the success of a company. Ergo, I am not at all invested in proving that CEOs are bad people who need to be punished; rather, I'm interested in proving that their "responsibility" is a fiction, since they bear no real responsibility at all. Being the person who signs off on a decision is not the same thing as being responsible for it. There is no responsibility where there is no accountability.)

[ October 25, 2011, 10:37 AM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by fugu13:
Rakeesh: I think Tom's made pretty clear that he's trolling yet again. Little point in attempting to actually nail down a position.

Is he really?
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kmbboots
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I don't think that is clear at all.
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by fugu13:
... what mechanism would (or could!) be used to determine who, specifically, was responsible for the failure of the company?

It's not clear, but in this case, it sounds like Pete Keywood designed the compensation scheme penalty to be non-specific.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
Also it seems like that is still just dodging fugu's main point, which is that by the time a company goes completely belly up there is an excellent chance that those originally responsible will be long gone, so the punishment will fall on the heads of people trying to, as he said, right an overturning ship. Whether this is the CEO's head, the Board's heads, or any other groups, it doesn't really solve this fundamental problem.

You are ignoring Tom's mainpoint. If its impossible to assign responsibility when a company fails, why isn't the converse also true. Why is it reasonable to say that the CEO is responsible when a company succeeds? And if the CEO isn't actually responsible either way, then how can you claim they deserve a huge salary because they have an enormous responsibility?

As for a serious proposal for holding CEOs responsible, I'd suggest that the majority of their compensation should be in terms of stock that they cannot sell until 5 years after they have left the company.

Yeah I wasn't talking to Tom at all, actually, (I will now, though: Hi Tom! [Smile] ) I was talking to Mucus re: his conversation about Buffet's proposal to make execs pay back money if their company goes under. So... there's that.
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fugu13
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quote:
You are ignoring Tom's mainpoint. If its impossible to assign responsibility when a company fails, why isn't the converse also true. Why is it reasonable to say that the CEO is responsible when a company succeeds? And if the CEO isn't actually responsible either way, then how can you claim they deserve a huge salary because they have an enormous responsibility?
quote:
(As a side note, Rabbit has the right of it. I am attempting to demonstrate that, because it's impossible to pin the failure of a company on a CEO, it's ludicrous to base CEO salaries on the concept that a CEO might be responsible for the success of a company. Ergo, I am not at all invested in proving that CEOs are bad people who need to be punished; rather, I'm interested in proving that their "responsibility" is a fiction, since they bear no real responsibility at all. Being the person who signs off on a decision is not the same thing as being responsible for it. There is no responsibility where there is no accountability.)
Then you should be just fine with the situation as it is, where people who are looking at the company directly set pay, instead of some weird outside force that attempts to do so equitably. Of course assigning direct responsibility for particular things is hard! But businesses somehow manage to evaluate employees at all sorts of rungs of the ladder. People get promoted, people get bonuses, people get praise, because we *can* trace a lot of things to people, even at middle management and above, when familiar with the details of an organization. Do evaluators do a perfect job? No, not at all, but that's hardly reason for action. Is the person supervising a few dozen grant reviewers not responsible for the performance of those grant reviewers, because it isn't possible to trace any the output of positive grant reviews directly to them? No, because the performance of the group of grant reviewers as a whole is still their responsibility, and even if it isn't entirely possible to say when they do a bad job and when they do a good job, it would be a much worse world if we didn't *try*.

That's the fundamental problem with this line of thinking. With this line of thinking, hardly any worker in any field where output is not completely and directly measurable would be deserving of anything, because, absent things like just not doing work, it would be possible to trace responsibility for output to that worker for certain.

And that's counterproductive nonsense.

quote:
Is he really?
Yeah, he's ignoring every question that would let someone pin down an actual position. That's classic trolling. Of course, I think Tom trolls more on autopilot than out of conscious decision. He lays down a ridiculous position, defends it over and over and says his position is obviously right, and if ever pinned down, says "that wasn't really my position, you should have known I was just exaggerating for effect!" despite the entire previous conversation.
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Rakeesh
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The cue for me was simpler. Or at least, the 'obviously trolling' cue was-the whole 'random dudes as President'.
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kmbboots
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I don't think that exaggeration or writing in general terms is the same as trolling. Tom's point is not that tough to figure out. If we are making the claim that the obscene rewards given to these CEO's (or bankers, or brokers or whatever) are justified because the responsibility is so enormous, then the consequences of failing in that responsibility should also be extreme. And it isn't.
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fugu13
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quote:
I don't think that exaggeration or writing in general terms is the same as trolling. Tom's point is not that tough to figure out. If we are making the claim that the obscene rewards given to these CEO's (or bankers, or brokers or whatever) are justified because the responsibility is so enormous, then the consequences of failing in that responsibility should also be extreme. And it isn't.
First, they are extreme. As demonstrated by example, a CEO who fails majorly can be unable to continue in that career path and give up ~75% or more of their future income.

Second, he was saying a heck of a lot more than extreme, he was saying they should be left *destitute*, specifically and repeatedly. And that's ridiculous, failing both on moral and practical grounds.

Please pay greater attention to the conversation.

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Rakeesh
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It helps your argument to start from the point with the qualifier 'obscene'.
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scholarette
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I think in considering money and motivation, especially at this level, we need to keep in mind that depending on how much you have. If you ask most people to do some job for 20,000 and they say no, then you ask them to do it for 200,000, there is a good chance they will change their answer. However, offer 20 million, if someone says no, odds are even for 200 million the answer will still be no. Increase by the same order of magnitude, but different results. Or for the value of some set amount, offer someone $1 a million and they will be willing to do vastly different things for that million than someone who has $1 million.

Would a CEO be willing to do a good job for a huge amount less? Probably- with several caveats. If you offer someone a job for $50 and someone else is offering $51, suddenly that $1 means so much more. So, the industry standard matters.

I would like to see CEO pay be based on median employee at that company pay. In that case, the CEO would have motivation to increase pay to the workers so his/her pay will also increase.

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kmbboots
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Can you understand that, when losing 75% of their income still leaves one a billionaire, it is a different category of consequence than a person who, making a smaller mistake, ends up losing their (only) house?

Where you get hung up on broad words like "destitute" or "obscene", I feel that you are nit-picking away at what are larger truths. Different styles of communication, but neither is insincere or trolling.

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fugu13
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quote:
I would like to see CEO pay be based on median employee at that company pay. In that case, the CEO would have motivation to increase pay to the workers so his/her pay will also increase.
While companies are of course free to use whatever standard they want, this doesn't make sense from a perspective of scale.

Imagine a manufacturing company with 100 employees, 80 of whom are various low level workers, 15 of whom are higher paid mid-level managers and professionals (heads of departments, accountants, and so forth), and 5 of whom are upper management, including the CEO. The median pay is the pay of one of the 80 low level workers, whose pay is determined by market wages for that sort of position, which is heavily determined by how productive the workers are at manufacturing things.

Now imagine the company grows ten times the size (perhaps a series of mergers or something). There are perhaps 800 low level workers, 150 middle management, and 50 upper management, culminating in the CEO. The median pay is still the pay of the low level worker, but the CEO, even with the support of more upper management, is still making decisions that reflect more responsibility (and there'd actually be fewer upper management than 50; it scales sub-linearly with company size). Deciding to move the company's main focus to a new product area, for instance, moves around roughly ten times as much capital as it did at the smaller company. If CEO pay is tied purely to median worker wage, it will be impossible for the CEO to be paid more, and that doesn't really make sense. It doesn't make sense for them to be paid ten times as much, either, but total compensation doubling or tripling would make a lot of sense.

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Rakeesh
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Well, sure-'rhetotical exaggeration' when it agrees or close to agrees with your fundmantal PoV. Something quite different if it's otherwise.

It's going to be harder for a vastly wealthy person to do something that renders them destitute. That's one of the intrinsic advantages to wealth-you're further from poverty. That a screwup when you're wealthy is less likely to render one destitute or even moderately well-off is hardly obscene, it's one of the points of attaining wealth. It could be argued it's the point-not being or likely to be poor.

quote:
...I feel that you are nit-picking away at what are larger truths. Different styles of communication, but neither is insincere or trolling.
So, what, because you feel the 'larger truth' you're talking about is accurate, it's unreasonable to point out details are problematic?
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fugu13
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quote:
Can you understand that, when losing 75% of their income still leaves one a billionaire, it is a different category of consequence than a person who, making a smaller mistake, ends up losing their (only) house?
You have strange notions about how much CEOs make. Only the very highest paid CEOs make more than $20 million, and there are CEOs at many high value companies that make under $5 million. So even most of the highest paid CEOs would need to save 100% of their compensation for 50 years to have a single billion dollars. A large company CEO paid a more typical compensation of $5 to $10 million (these aren't tiny companies -- Sprint, UPS, Tyson Foods, General Mills, PG&E, et cetera) would have to save their salary for 100 to 200 years to reach a single billion dollars.

In the particular example, the CEO was being paid less than $5 million a year, and her lifetime future earnings will probably be on the order of $200k to $500k a year (she's earning about at the low end of that right now, as her only income is from being on the boards of some medium companies). Well off, yes. Hardly what you're talking about, though, and definitely a drastic change in income.

It might help if you were more aware of reality when making your assessments.

(edit: changed some places that said salary to compensation; also, note that I ignore the effect of interest on saving entire compensation -- it doesn't really change the point that CEOs with very few exceptions are far from billionaires)

[ October 25, 2011, 04:31 PM: Message edited by: fugu13 ]

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fugu13
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quote:
Where you get hung up on broad words like "destitute" or "obscene", I feel that you are nit-picking away at what are larger truths. Different styles of communication, but neither is insincere or trolling.
If the larger truths lead to outright stupid conclusions, perhaps the nit-picky details are useful.
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fugu13
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Oh, and the numbers above are total compensation, not salary. Substantial portions of them are in stock and stock options, which are both much less liquid than salary (especially given the restrictions on how executive officers are allowed to deal in their own stock) and tie the long term benefits of the CEOs to their companies exactly as people like to call for more of.
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kmbboots
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Any way you can have this conversation without being insulting? I assume that you mean well, but it is getting more and more difficult to read your posts as anything other than nasty.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
Any way you can have this conversation without being insulting? I assume that you mean well, but it is getting more and more difficult to read your posts as anything other than nasty.
kmbboots, you (and Tom) have more than once said flat-out wrong things in this discussion, recently, and when called on it your response has been 'you're ignoring the larger point and nit-picking'. Tom has failed to respond to much of anything directly, except to describe his anecdotal evidence as the reason for his perception of CEOs while also saying his anecdotal evidence shouldn't be taken on its own.

Can you see why that would be frustrating? If someone is going to say something that's just plain wrong, they shouldn't be frustrated when it's pointed out. It's a discussion board.

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fugu13
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I am getting a bit testy. It is in part because the arguments being made are so often based on factually inaccurate assumptions, when the facts are readily available. For instance, with this, it isn't like CEO pay isn't plastered all over the news and such.

Part of being respectful in a conversation is arguing based on facts or reasonable assumptions instead of things that have been made up out of whole cloth. But I will try to moderate my tone more.

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kmbboots
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It is possible that you and I cannot constructively discuss such things. Which is not the end of the world.

I live in a situation where I am confronted daily with both - yes, obscenely - wealthy people who are wealthy through no commensurate achievement or merit and people who, through no great fault of their own are, at best, struggling against overwhelming burdens. It is true; I see it. Families with no safe place to live. People who work hard and still have to go without medical treatment.

And, honestly, merit of fault is a distraction any way.

I don't think that you are arguing that there is nothing wrong with this situation or that this situation doesn't exist but you do give the impression that you are adding your voice to that side of the argument. Please imagine that I find that just as frustrating.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by fugu13:
quote:
Can you understand that, when losing 75% of their income still leaves one a billionaire, it is a different category of consequence than a person who, making a smaller mistake, ends up losing their (only) house?
You have strange notions about how much CEOs make. Only the very highest paid CEOs make more than $20 million, and there are CEOs at many high value companies that make under $5 million. ...
I think that the two of you are making different true points here. "Billionaire" is a measure of wealth. "Make" usually refers to income.

An example is Richard Fuld (Lehman Brothers) who accumulated a net worth of roughly a billion dollars and could lose 75% of his income or even all of it and still be very comfortable.

That is a point not invalidated by the fact that he "made" "only" half a billion or so over an 11 year period at Lehman Brothers.

As for how rare this is, it looks like of Forbes' 413 American billionaires, eye-balling it, the vast majority were CEOs at some point or another. Describing whether this is "sufficiently" rare for this conversation to focus on them is of course, a matter of perspective.

(Although a part of me does idly wonder how many people in China were the equivalent of billionaires before the revolution came.

What IS the tipping point is an interesting question.)

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Rakeesh
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quote:
I live in a situation where I am confronted daily with both - yes, obscenely - wealthy people who are wealthy through no commensurate achievement or merit and people who, through no great fault of their own are, at best, struggling against overwhelming burdens. It is true; I see it. Families with no safe place to live. People who work hard and still have to go without medical treatment.

What on Earth does this have to do with the discussion currently going on? The discussion isn't 'is desperate poverty bad', but rather 'do top executives in fact do little or nothing to earn their compensation'?

I can certainly understand why you'd find fugu's approach just as frustrating, if you're starting off from such a different place-one that fugu isn't talking about. I don't think it's intentionally dishonest, but it's certainly not the same discussion, either-he's not talking about what you think he's talking about, even if ideologically his points do less harm to your opponent than you'd like.

You wouldn't put up with this kind of thing if the topic was, say, abortion and someone suggested that you were 'adding your voice' to complete apathy for the unborn. Why doesn't fugu deserve the same kind of consideration?

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fugu13
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Seeing large, nebulous social issues is not a reason to side with whichever side of a specific argument tends to use the right rhetoric. I hope that isn't what you're arguing, because it sure sounds like it.

As I've stated numerous times here in thread, I'll state my specific argument here again: CEO pay in the US, given the size and profitability of the companies involved, is probably somewhat higher, but not excessively higher, than it should be. That this is true by the yardsticks the US is commonly asserted to have a problem vs (such as CEO pay in Europe) is readily confirmed by data. The problem is small compared to other, much larger problems (such as the general plight of poor people and the decline of the middle class), and is almost certainly corrected by measures worth supporting anyways, namely raising taxes.

As I've stated in *other* threads repeatedly, I am for a good-sized increase in taxes that extends down to around $100k to $150k in household income, simplifying the tax code drastically, cutting federal expenditures (grant programs and homeland security especially) by a lot, restructuring FICA taxation so that it isn't regressive and is sustainable, creating a negative income tax on the lowest bracket so there's a guaranteed minimum income, and instituting national single payer health insurance.

I am for all these things because I have researched the problems that pertain as well as I know how, trying to use data as much as possible to help me understand what actually helps and how much. I am not for these things because other people I share some opinions with are for these things. I am not for these things because they use sound bites that agree with my general sympathies. I am not for these things because they hurt people I like or help people I don't like. I am not for these things because they attempt to get rid of things I perceive as social wrongs unless I have reason to believe there wouldn't be worse social wrongs created in the attempt.

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fugu13
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quote:
I think that the two of you are making different true points here. "Billionaire" is a measure of wealth. "Make" usually refers to income.

An example is Richard Fuld (Lehman Brothers) who accumulated a net worth of roughly a billion dollars and could lose 75% of his income or even all of it and still be very comfortable.

That is a point not invalidated by the fact that he "made" "only" half a billion or so over an 11 year period at Lehman Brothers.

As for how rare this is, it looks like of Forbes' 413 American billionaires, eye-balling it, the vast majority were CEOs at some point or another. Describing whether this is "sufficiently" rare for this conversation to focus on them is of course, a matter of perspective.

(Although a part of me does idly wonder how many people in China were the equivalent of billionaires before the revolution came.

What IS the tipping point is an interesting question.)

Very few top CEOs are billionaires, even among the very highest paying companies in the US (much less once you look at the top few hundred). Feel free to check it. I was underscoring why so few were billionaires, and the simple reason is because CEOs don't make enough to become billionaires, generally speaking.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
In the particular example, the CEO was being paid less than $5 million a year, and her lifetime future earnings will probably be on the order of $200k to $500k a year (she's earning about at the low end of that right now, as her only income is from being on the boards of some medium companies.
Which particular example was this? The only person I've seen singled out as an example was Meg Whitman and she is in fact a billionaire. And while her current "salary" from HP is only $1, her total compensation will most likely be much greater than $200k to 500k per year.

Her predecessor, Leo Apotheker, was hired at HP shortly after being fired as CEO of a German software company. He lasted less than a year at HP but between his signing bonus and his severance pay received over $20 million for a few months of work.

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kmbboots
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Rakeesh, we very likely are having different conversations. I am not so sure why you would consider one more valid than the other.

If someone suggested that my arguments regarding abortion are adding my voice to the argument to leave abortion legal, I would agree. I don't think that "apathy for the unborn" is a policy. You could say truthfully that my arguments put me on the same side of the policy debate with those that have apathy for the unborn.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
Rakeesh, we very likely are having different conversations. I am not so sure why you would consider one more valid than the other.

Because you're addressing fugu as though he's having the one conversation, when he's specifically stated which conversation he's having, and then criticizing him for 'nitpicking'. It's not about which conversation is more valid-that's still another conversation.

quote:
You could say truthfully that my arguments put me on the same side of the policy debate with those that have apathy for the unborn.
Yeah, and if I said 'you're supporting baby killers', you might get a bit testy.
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kmbboots
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I think that the language was inflammatory but, if by "baby killer" you meant those who support abortion rights for whatever reason, you would be correct. My problem wouldn't be with your understanding of what side of the issue I am supporting.

Again, I don't see why fugu or you get to determine the rules of the conversation.

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by fugu13:

As I've stated in *other* threads repeatedly, I am for a good-sized increase in taxes that extends down to around $100k to $150k in household income, simplifying the tax code drastically, cutting federal expenditures (grant programs and homeland security especially) by a lot, restructuring FICA taxation so that it isn't regressive and is sustainable, creating a negative income tax on the lowest bracket so there's a guaranteed minimum income, and instituting national single payer health insurance.

Which I why I am giving you the benefit of the doubt.
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Rakeesh
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And your bringing scenes of desperate, grinding poverty into an unrelated discussion wasn't inflammatory? You specifically stated that it 'felt like' fugu was opposed to your point, which was that it's important to eradicate poverty as you described. That's not inflammatory?

C'mon'.

As for deciding the rules, I'm not trying to set rules and I don't think he is either. I do think he-and everyone else here-is allowed to say, "This is what I'm talking about, not what you're saying I'm talking about or what you 'feel' like I'm talking about." Especially if that person goes into great detail about what they think, and why.

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kmbboots
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Of course, they are. What I found objectionable were the accusations of trolling and the insults.
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Rakeesh
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Bringing the things you brought into the discussion, and criticizing fugu for 'seeming to speak' against it, is something of an insult.
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