February 4, 2009

Obama and Broke Girl Call for Common Sense Executive Pay

We are in deep doo-doo. I have never before used that childish term; had to look up Webster's to get the correct spelling, and yes, I am sorry to say—there is one.

[I started this blog last night. Clearly, President Obama got his hands on it sometime this morning because this afternoon's headlines read variously: "Obama Calls for 'Common Sense' on Executive Pay" and "Obama: Big Exec Paychecks in 'Bad Taste'."]

I've long considered myself a capitalist (in a good way), and twice waded through Free to Choose, the book by free-market proponent and Nobel-winning economist Milton Friedman and his equally formidably smart wife Rose.

But when all roads lead to coin, something's gotta give.

Money is the currency by which wrongs are righted, justice is purchased, the ridiculous is normalized, and in my city, politics is conducted. (McDonald's coffee lawsuit, O.J. Simpson, Wall Street bonuses after TARP, Blagojevich.)

Please don't be offended, but I ask: Are you a prostitute? I use the term "prostitute" per Webster's definition: "to put oneself or one's talents to an unworthy use or purpose for the sake of financial gain."

Posited a little more nicely, Is money usually the final and ultimate determinant when it comes to making choices about time, family, marriage, education and your job? I'm not in the judge's seat, by the way; I am thinking this over for myself too.

Ridiculously high pay to CEOs is lame. Nate Baumgart stated it well in this editorial letter:
“...the question has been asked, 'Without the most significant of financial rewards, how will we attract the very best to occupy these lofty [executive] positions?' The implicit assumption of this statement is that society’s very best can perceive no higher value than the dollar.

High compensation doesn’t attract the very best. It attracts the greediest."

So let's bring this on home: Is your day-to-day living and larger life purpose driven to accumulate the most money possible? If so, your mood, marriage and motivations are at the mercy of a whole lot that's out of your control.

Baumgart continued,
"Those whom history has judged as great often came from less and strived for more than wealth."

Best, greediest, best, greediest, best, greediest. Which would you rather have in your epitaph? Which is more likely to fill you up here and now?

Easy to voice outrage at CEO compensation, but not so easy for Broke Girl to give thought to what she would do or is now doing for the love of money.


  1. You've hit a proverbial nail on the proverbial head, Sharon (um...Broke Girl). I've noticed lately that as our money belts got tighter and our savings and portfolios drew thinner and our focus for making more money grew broader ... well, we've been snippy. Our daughter, who is 11, said to me the other day, "Lately, you've been in a lot of bad moods."

    Wanna know why? Because I've been so consummed by the $$$, trying to pay back medical bills, trying to keep us in the house "one more month," trying to use every shredd of lettuce in the fridge to make CERTAIN we aren't wasteful, trying to conserve car trips (so as to conserve gas consumption), trying to keep the heat on low and the air conditioner on high and on and on and on ... is it any WONDER I'm "in a bad mood lately?"

    But what did Jesus say? (WWJS???) "Why worry about tomorrow ... tomorrow will have enough worries of its on. And why worry about what you will wear and what you will eat ... and what ... and what ... and what ..." (paraphrased)

    I could lay my list up against HIS list and if I did I'd realize that He's got it in control. I just need to do my best and he really, really, really will take care of the rest.

    That doesn't mean I need to be flippant about my finances and future planning. But I do need to relax a bit. Go get a $1 soft-serve ice cream with my favorite 11-year-old little girl and laugh a little for crying out loud. (pardon that silly pun!)

    Hope I can do this....

    Eva Marie Everson
    Author, Speaker, Tight-wad :)

  2. Broke Girl -

    Have you ever tackled the question on what is money? Where does it come from? How is it measured? I think when we go down that road we really start to learn and see things for what they really are.

    Your old friend,
    Joe McGuire