Thursday, November 12, 2009

Who Will Cast The First Stone?

In response to a report which appeared recently in the Wall Street Journal, American International Group Inc.'s CEO, Robert Benmosche, who was paid around $10.5 million this past August to take over and cure the ailing company, announced that he was not going anywhere. Apparently Mr. Benmosche decided he could make do on his pittance of a salary.
AIG was given a government bailout package of up to $180 billion (yes, that’s …illion with a b) because the company was “too big to fail.” I would think that if it’s that big, it is probably too big to exist.
But I digress – Even though he is terribly frustrated by the  government’s salary caps (the government now owns an 80% stake in the company), Mr. Benmosche has told the company’s 100 highest paid employees that he will stay on and fight for their pay.
 Under the government's caps  plan, cash salaries for the top 25 highest-paid executives will be limited in most cases to $500,000. The plan also calls for perks in most cases to be capped at $25,000. Obviously talented employees are not going to hang around a company where their salaries are limited to $525,000. Who would?
I hate to say this, but Mr. Benmosche is probably correct in thinking employees  are likely to leave. They are being wooed by companies who did not receive bailout money; those companies are free to go back to their greedy practice of paying obscene salaries.
What ever happened to the idea that when one takes a job, one agrees to do a specified amount of work for a specified amount of pay? Apparently I was in a minority when I worked – I did the best I could. I couldn’t have done any better if my salary had been doubled, tripled or whatever.
Or perhaps I was really in a majority, a vast majority. I am guessing that most people do their job to the best of their ability. A year-end bonus is nice, but they work just as hard whether or not they get one.
Even though Mr. Benmosche and I both live on planet Earth, we live in different worlds. I cannot imagine my being able to shop for Christmas in Singapore, any more than he can imagine his not being able to if he so desired. Nor can I imagine my turning down Mr. Benmosche’s salary if it were offered to me, any more than he can imagine agreeing to work for $30,000 per year. Now be honest - can you?

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