Wednesday, April 20, 2005


An Actual Conservative

Being basically a stinking Leftist, I've been saying for years that executive pay is institutionalized robbery. Executives and their cohorts on boards of directors are simply robbing shareholders and ripping the guts out of the entire concept of shared ownership of capitalist enterprises. Who wants to put their money in stocks when they know the profits they're risking their money for is simply going to be skimmed by unscrupulous managers?

Consider this screed, and then take a look at who wrote it. Another damned liberal, probably?

"We learn from Viacom's SEC filing that its chief executive, Sumner Redstone, who is 81 years old, is presumably guarding against the hazards of senior-citizen penury. His salary was $4.97 million, and he received a bonus of $16.5 million. We think we see traces of sibling rivalry in the picture, because one of Viacom's co-presidents, Tom Freston, received only $16 million in bonus. Viacom's other co-president, Leslie Moonves, has got to have done something truly humiliating, because his bonus was only $14 million. (However, all three received more than $30 million in stock options.)

"Why does capitalism tolerate such institutional embarrassments? The answer has to be that embarrassment simply isn't being felt. Consider excruciating, but apparently tolerable, incidentals. Mr. Freston is based in New York. But from time to time, business requires him to be in Los Angeles -- where, as it happens, he also has a home. On those nights[,] does he take hotel rooms? Ample hotel rooms, understand. No. He just charges the company what he thinks is appropriate to pay him for using his own home. In 2004, this amounted to $43,000.


"What dismays is the utter lack of class in such businesses and businessmen here parading their skills in distortion. Michael Eisner appears twice in the table of the 25 largest compensation packages paid in a single year. In 1993 he took home $203 million. In 1998, $575.6 million.

"That money was taken, directly, from company shareholders. But the loss, viewed on a larger scale, is a loss to the community of people who believe in the capitalist free-market system. Because extortions of that size tell us, really, that the market system is not working in respect of executive remuneration. What is going on is phony. It is shoddy, it is contemptible, and it is philosophically blasphemous."

The writer? William F. Buckley. See how an actual conservative approach differs from that of the rape-and-pillage far-right corporatist greedheads currently in power?

The Quotidian Meander

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