The share of corporate income devoted to compensating the five highest-paid executives of large corporations ballooned from an average of 5 percent in 1993 to more than 15 percent by 2005 (the latest data available).
Corporations might otherwise have devoted this sizable sum to research and development, additional jobs, higher wages for average workers, or dividends to shareholders – who, not incidentally, are supposed to be the owners of the firm.
Corporate apologists say CEOs and other top executives are worth these amounts because their corporations have performed so well over the last three decades that CEOs are like star baseball players or movie stars.
Baloney. Most CEOs haven’t done anything special. The entire stock market surged over this time.
Even if a company’s CEO simply played online solitaire for thirty years, the company’s stock would have ridden the wave.
Besides, that stock market surge has had less to do with widespread economic gains that with changes in market rules favoring big companies and major banks over average employees, consumers, and taxpayers.