February 15, 2009

Wanna Impress Me? Change The Spread

Over the past few weeks, we've been treated to an endless litany of CEOs, executives and other suits parading before the cameras and Congress, telling us how they've learned their lessons, how they're going to change and help the American people, how they're working to help the nation in our time of need.

It's all a load of crap.

We keep hearing about how the bank and automotive CEOs are going to forgo their bonuses or salaries for the next year in order to help their companies. None of it impresses me.

None of them -- not a single one of them -- told us how many of their hirelings and underlings are making six and seven-figure bonuses, or how many of them are making seven-figure salaries. So the notion of standing before the cameras and telling the world about how they won't be taking bonuses or or how they won't be taking salaries means absolutely nothing.

If they want to impress me -- no, scratch that, if they want to impress the nation, then have the gumption to open up the salary process. Show us that the spread between the highest paid person in the company and the lowest paid person in the company is $500,000.

That's right, the entire spread -- from the CEO to the guy in the mailroom -- half a million dollars.

Now THAT would impress me.

That would show me that the companies are serious about making significant change in order to save itself and working to save the nation in the process.

And in addition, that would impress America. That would show the people of this country that while the companies are still concerned with remaining a for-profit concern, they are looking at an investment in the future. They would save thousands, no, millions of dollars themselves, while moving forward.

The sacrifice they'd have to make? Simple -- the 4th vice president in charge of paperweights might not get to have his country club membership paid. He might have to drive a Volvo instead of a Benz. Oh, well.

The future is worth it.

Not only that, but once America sees that a company is forward thinking and aggresive like that, they'll beat a path to their door. They want customers? Show everyone that they are serious about being a competitive, honest and fair player in the game. That means hiring Americans, and building their products in America. That means having customer service centers in the US, not in India. That means paying attention to quality and customer care. That means playing fair.

Unfortunately, the companies that have danced before Congress these past few months won't do it. They don't have the stones. They don't have the wherewithal to be that kind of forward-thinking concern. They are greedy. They are selfish. They feel that the American public is stupid and won't care if they don't do it.

And unless someone gets them out of the way, they may be the ruination of this nation.

This has been a bumpy ride. It's about to get bumpier.

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