Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Yes, Thomas Friedman is right sometimes...and wrong other times...


John Mack, the new C.E.O. at Morgan Stanley, initially demanded in the contract he signed June 30 that his total pay for the next two years would be no less than the average pay package received by the C.E.O.'s at Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns. If that average turned out to be more than $25 million, Mr. Mack was to be paid at least that much. He eventually backed off that demand after a howl of protest, but it struck me as the epitome of what is wrong in America today.

We are now playing defense. A top C.E.O. wants to be paid not based on his performance, but based on the average of his four main rivals! That is like Lance Armstrong's saying he will race only if he is guaranteed to come in first or second, no matter what his cycling times are on each leg.

But I don't think Ireland's 2nd richest; it's got a good economy, low unemployment, and probably the 2nd highest growth rate, but there's countries like Luxembourg and Belgium- you know- those chocolate makers- that consistently beat America on per-capita income and lifestyle measures.

And when Friedman says:

Wouldn't you think that if you were president, after you had read the umpteenth story about premier U.S. companies, such as Intel and Apple, building their newest factories, and even research facilities, in China, India or Ireland, that you would summon the country's top business leaders to Washington ask them just one question: "What do we have to do so you will keep your best jobs here? Make me a list and I will not rest until I get it enacted."

Well, gee, Friedman, maybe they'd tell you we'd have to slash incomes here by 50%.

And maybe they wouldn't tell you and you wouldn't care. Kind of like Bush.

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