Hey Jealousy

Another year, another list summarizing how much better off our nation’s CEOs are compared to the rest of us lowlifes:

Not only is the gap between the county’s elite money earners and regular people big, but it’s getting bigger, the report said.

“The average of Canada’s CEO elite 100 make 189 times more than Canadians earning the average wage,” the report’s author, economist Hugh Mackenzie, said in a statement. “If you think that’s normal, it’s not. In 1998, the highest paid 100 Canadian CEOs earned 105 times more than the average wage, itself likely more than double the figure for a decade earlier.”

Hugh Mackenzie, the report's author

Are CEOs overpaid? Maybe. Probably. So what? What does this prove? Are wages going down in Canada on average? Is our quality of life diminishing across the board? No? Then who gives a shit?

I used to work for one of the CEOs mentioned in the article. It seems his compensation was about 70 times my own in 2010, give or take. Was he worth more than 70 times than me? Short answer is, yes, he was worth at least that much compared to my contribution. He worked harder than me for far more hours, traveled across the globe many times over, was the ultimate manager of all the employees, had a level of responsibility far greater than mine and was personally liable for actions undertaken by the corporation. Moreover, he was a giant in his industry and could have been the head of a number of our competitors or customers if he chose to do so. He was worth it.

(Which raises the question to whether I’m making too much money compared to other wage earners in this country. Could be, but then again, the choices I made in my life gave me the opportunity to work for this company which probably offers greater compensation for workers in, say, the fast food industry. But that’s another topic.)

Notice here how Mackenzie’s methodology is being used to illustrate income inequality. He uses the top 100 CEOs. Why 100? Why not the top 50, or top 10? Why not the top earner alone? That would increase his findings almost eight-fold. “Top CEO earns 1700 times average wage earner in Canada.” How about something a little more honest, such as the earnings of every single CEO in Canada? It seems arbitrary because it is arbitrary, as the number calculated fits the narrative.

What’s even more pathetic is how Hugh Mackenzie compares the cumulative CEO compensation to the budgetary deficits of Manitoba, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. He says that the money spent on CEOs (i.e. privately earned income) could be used to bail out incompetent provincial treasurers, as if these budgets would have been balanced if not for the greedy 0.01%.

Nevertheless, despite its Marxist undertones, Mackenzie created an interesting, if useless, document. For example, the average compensation (by their numbers) for the top 100 CEOs was $8.38 million in 2010. But notice how Frank Stronach skewed this number. The old man at Magna earned an incredible $61 million, including $41 million bonus. Take him out of the equation, and the average compensation drops to $7.84 million, or almost $500,000 per CEO. In fact, the top three CEOs on the blacklist all hail from Magna, who were awarded a total compensation of about $95 million. Take these three out of the equation, and you have an average of $7.65 million per CEO, taking another $200,000 out of these greasy bastards’ pockets.

Did the Magna money-maulers earn it? Looking at their 2010 annual report, which shows that Magna made just under a billion dollars in profit, it might not seem that spending 10% of that value on three men is worth it. Then again,  Frank Stronach and his team are probably as good a salesmen in the auto parts racket as anyone out there. Ten percent of profits seems to be a reasonable commission. And who’s to say that with someone cheaper at the helm the company would have done just as well? Mackenzie sure doesn’t give us any insight to the costs associated with having lesser talent at the helm.

I’d love to see Mackenzie and the envy-mongers at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives create another document that shows how much better off minimum-wage earners in this country were to the average worker in the rest of the world in 2010, as illustrated by Adrian McNair.

In fact, I want to know how much money Mackenzie made for writing this report. Not because I think it would do me any good; I’m just jealous he gets paid writing such drivel and I want my fair share.

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