Recently the economist and columnist Thomas Sowell wrote a column entitled, The Greed Fallacy. It was, if you will, an apologia on the salaries of CEOs across the nation. Many people question these individuals and why they are paid so much. Sowell’s argument is that they are paid so much by people and boards who greatly realize how much these individuals know and that these salaries are justified and earned. They are not the result of greed gone rampant. He, of course, never mentions that some companies have jettisoned up to 20% of their work force to accomplish this.
Such Randian logic. The philosophy of Ayn Rand promotes that such achievement is morally good and right and, frankly, these are the people at the top of the ethical ‘food chain’ if you will. Ayn Rand’s philosophy is one that is pervasive in our culture these days. It’s interesting to note that she and Karl Marx are often seen at opposite ends of the political spectrum----but they have one thing in common. It’s a life and a world devoid of any sort of God. As an aside, my experience with non-believers isn’t necessarily consistent with Rand or Marx. The two of them seem to represent an extreme and both of them seem to lack a viable ethical conscience-----most non-believers that I have met over the years do have a strong ethical conscience, so I’m not lumping anyone together here.
I disagree with Sowell. To me, greed has become the reigning deity of our era. Recently University of Louisville coach Bobby Petrino left a very fine job to become the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. He left a school with a great sports program and one that is improving, to an NFL franchise which is one of the worst run. But he’s getting a big raise. His salary jumped from around two million a year to five million a year. That is a 60% raise, or a 3 million dollar raise. At first glance it’s very worth it. But then there is a question. What is it that you can purchase for five million that you can’t purchase for two million. The way his salary is set up, he was going to make 20 million over a decade in Louisville and 25 million in five years in Atlanta. Admittedly, the cost of living in Atlanta is higher, but what is that he wants to buy?
In 1961 the pulse of the United States was such that the incoming President said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” People cheered. In 1980 a Presidential candidate rightly assessed the pulse of the nation again and asked, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” The people cheered and he won the election. He correctly assessed the national pulse and asked a question that candidates still ask.
Even Christianity has evolved into a greed world. Whereas once following Jesus was following the mandate of picking up one’s cross and following Jesus, and now it’s seeing that blessings of God will come to them (wealth, happiness, and Heaven) if they follow Jesus. Hard pews and ritual have been replaced by theater seating and lattes.
Ultimately I’m not a socialist. I do believe people ought to be paid their worth. It shouldn’t be at the expense of others. When CEOs are making $100,000,000.00 per year and have to lay off 20% of their work force to enable this to happen, something is wrong and should not be defended or dressed up to appear moral when it is not.