It seems to me that CEOs do have a certain amount of responsibility to the general public and to their workers to, for example, make sure they are not contriuting to environmental decline or endangering the public. That kind of corporate social responsibility is different from the need to make sure that others are compensated for their work and that there is parity of some kind between what CEOs make and what everyone else makes. Still, there is a kind of precedent there that says CEOs don't just do whatever they want just as their companies don't do whatever they want regardless of other peoplles' interests.
You raised a good point on CEO's/Boards serving the interests of primarily the shareholders while neglecting those of the employees. Perhaps change for the better will come when responsibilities to employees are met and extend to that of the society in general!
I think there is a clear difference between leaders and followers. Those who actually build the company from scratch did not require much salaries because salaries are for employees and not for employers. They had enought shares or stocks to keep them satisfied.
"...you do not need a lot of money to live in Europe..." who does not like an extra zero in his paycheck even though you really donot need or cannot use it. You can always put some more money for retirement or go for an early retirement.
Seriously though, the problem seems to me to be responsibility. Everyone has rights - CEOs have rights to huge salaries, stock options, golden parachutes. But the only responsibilities they have seem to be to the shareholders and boards who give them all the above. As for responsibilities for the welfare and lives of their workers and staff - forget it.
If managers, politicians, etc will not take ownership of their responsibilities, ethical or otherwise, the only thing to do is legislate them, so they HAVE to.
FYI it is just as big a problem in AUstralia as it seems to be in the States.
I suspect that in the U.S., the ratio for the semiconductor industry is much lower than for other industries. Yes, U.S. semiconductor CEOs are well-compensated, but so are the rank-and-file compared to many other industries.
Just as a comparison, how about thinking of some CEO's dear to our hearts - Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. They built one of the most successful technology companies we have known.
I couldn't find much about their pay or "Compensation" but there have been plenty of ex-HP employees posted in these pages before now. Does anyone know if Bill and Dave got these obscene salaries? I think the answer will be no, they were rich, deservedly so, but not obscenely so. And they built their business on employing smart people, treating them well, and paying them what they were worth......and not milking the company like more recent HP CEOs did.......or am I dreaming?