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Opinion

Society fails to recognize upward mobility

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May 1, 2008

Tax time has passed and, like many Americans, I’ve spent the past two months thinking about the best way to invest, save and spend my money. I’ve also spent some time thinking about the way some Americans are paid for what they do, and the absurdity of how much money some make and how little others earn.

I don’t think of myself as a socialist. I believe in a free-market economy, up to a point. Build a better mousetrap and you deserve to make a good living doing so, but make a billion dollars a year working as the CEO of the Better Mousetrap Company and something is very wrong, especially if many of the employees of the BMC are barely scraping by (i.e. feeding their families, providing reasonable health insurance and saving for the future).

Our society rewards its leaders, CEOs, chairpersons and bosses with pretty substantial financial offerings. If any one particular leader has performed in such a way as to deserve a large reward, so be it. However, have you noticed how many of these so- called “leaders” are earning exorbitant salaries and don’t deserve it?

A company loses a few billion dollars and they give the head guy or gal a hefty raise and a few million in stock options. Another company files for bankruptcy protection and they offer the CEO a golden parachute that will keep his or her feet off the ground for life. Am I missing something here?

It seems to me that in a nation that is seeing its currency falling against the rest of the world, and the word recession being used every time the word economy comes up, the market would be making some adjustments to start bringing things back down to earth.

I have a problem with people making more money than they could possibly need or spend in a lifetime. As Bud Fox asked Gordon Gekko in “Wall Street,” “how many yachts can you water ski behind?”

A company paying any employee (and that is what these financial whiz kids are) more than a few million a year is not really thinking about the big picture, and certainly not concerned with the customer. A $400 million a year salary is so out of the realm of sanity it staggers the mind. Can you imagine how much could be done for the lowest earning employees of a corporation with even half that much money?

Again, I reiterate that I honestly feel that a people who do such a super job that they have made a huge difference in how a company performs deserves to be rewarded.

Restructure the company administration, get the budget under control, bring in a solid fiscal year profit, get a couple of hundred grand reward! Help create a high demand new product, come up with a fantastic marketing campaign and get two weeks in the south of France!

Those sound very reasonable to me, but there are some who would read that and laugh their heads off as they sip their Cristal and munch on their beluga caviar. It is to these spoiled, nose in the air, pampered and completely out of touch people that I say “Take a look at the big picture, clown!”

Start saving now, students; it doesn’t look like it’s going to get much better anytime soon!

Bill Henderson is the head coach of swimming and diving at UWRF and serves as the athletic department’s equipment manager. He received his bachelor’s degree in journalism and his master’s in physical education from Sacramento State in California.