If winning isn't everything,
why do they keep score?
- Vince Lombardi
Online Sales Taxes- According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, sales taxes on online purchases could translate into $23 billion in new annual revenue. California could take in over $4 billion, and smaller states like Arkansas and Missouri could have made up their entire 2010 budget gaps with the projected online revenues. If Tom and Kate weren't meant to last, neither were tax-free online purchases.
Productivity- According to th
Election 2012- On Monday, the government reported a 0.5% drop in retail sales, the third straight monthly decline. The last time retail sales took a quarter-long skid was in 2008, which also happened to be the the last year a new political party took changed the curtains in the Oval office.
Just Plain Marginal
Rotten Apples- A survey of 500 top Wall Street executives by the law firm Labaton Sucharow finds that 24% believe that professional money people need to engage in unethical or illegal behavior to be successful. The other 76% said "define unethical or illegal."
Views From the Cheap Seats
In comparing himself to Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus once said that while he always tried to win every golf tournament he entered, he only needed to win by a single stroke. Tiger Woods, on the other hand, wants to grind his opponents into submission and win by a dozen strokes. A win is a win, Nicklaus surmised, and whether you won by one stroke or ten, you still got the trophy, the winner’s check, and maybe even the girl. Anything more than that is just showing off. Nicklaus’s comment popped into my more-vacant-than-usual mind over the weekend after reading about the supertanker-sized 2011 pay packages brought home by the five-highest paid CEO’s of the Bay Area’s publicly traded companies. It got me thinking: In today’s Look-At-Me-Everybody (also known as L.A.M.E) world, what does it take to "win."
According to the Bay Area News Group, Apple CEO Tim Cook was the highest paid CEO, earning a staggering $378 million. His actual take home pay was only $1.8 million, with the balance coming from a stock “award” of 1 million Apple shares that vest over ten years. One million shares of a $375 stock (it actually trades today at $610) for one year’s worth of work? That works out to $43,000 an hour, even while he sleeps. Mr. Cook no doubt did a terrific job captaining the Apple boat, but he’s not the only one sailing it. Does he really deserve a winner’s check of one million shares? Wouldn’t a measly hundred thousand shares have been enough to impress his neighbors?
Oracle CEO and Founder Larry Ellison was the second highest paid CEO at $78 million. But I don’t have a problem with Ellison’s pay because he built Oracle from scratch. Capitalism is designed to reward those who put their money where their mouth is (especially one as loud as Ellison’s). In other words, Ellison deserves everything that he’s “won.” That’s my problem with Mr. Cook’s pay package; Ellison built his own boat (and he now owns his very own island to sail it around), while Cook came aboard as a passenger, albeit one riding in first-class.
Rounding out the top five were John Hammergren of McKesson ($32 million), John Daane of Altera ($29 million), and John Watson of Chevron ($18 million). That works out to almost $500,000 a week. These guys are hard working and talented, no doubt, and they deserve to be the highest paid employees at their respective firm. But do they really deserve to earn more in a single week than their average employee earns in five, seven, or even ten years? No wonder that, according to the IRS, between 1988 and 2008, the inflation-adjusted income of an average taxpayer dropped $400, to $33,000, while at the same time the richest one percent, those who make $380,000 or more, saw their incomes increase by 33%.
When it comes to income distribution, corporate America has become more like Tiger Woods and less like Jack Nicklaus. If we’re not careful, American society is going to run into a fire hydrant. And we know how that turns out.
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