Thanks for your comment, Professor Walker. I agree this is an ominous trend for typical workers (like me). But who is to blame and what can be done? Boards are presumably looking out for their companies' best interests by awarding pay packages designed to retain and motivate experienced and/or talented CEOs (the going rate for whom has skyrocketed). CEOs are trying to maximize their earnings, just as we all do to one degree or another. I can't imagine that company boards of directors will consciously make an effort to try to narrow this gap unless they believe it will improve the bottom-line performance of their firms. What's the remedy?
Excellent article! This is a trend much broader than the electronics industry. In 1965 average CEO pay was 24 times that of the median worker, 35 times in 1978, 71 in 1989, 298 in 2000, and 275 in 2007. Median CEO pay in 2007 is 194 times that of a worker.
The question is then whether CEOs have somehow become more valuable to their companies than a worker. This argument might work for Steve Jobs, but it is hard to name more than a few other CEOs in this category. And one might ask why US CEOs are supposedly 2-5x more valuable than CEOs in other countries, when US company performance is not that much different. This leads to a discussion of the diligence of corporate boards, boards loaded with CEO buddies, stockholder activism, etc.
One could further broaden this discussion to the fact that the gap between the 0.1% or top 0.01% and top 10% is where the real widening is occurring. This is more of a public policy discussion, than an electronics industry discussion.
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