by John Walters
Lev And Let Die
In the past 48 hours everyone’s first or second favorite Ukrainian henchman, Lev Parnas, is cooperating with impeachment investigators. So you have to wonder how many hours or days it will be before Lev “hangs himself” in jail. Meanwhile, ABC correspondent Amy Robach, who is married to Andrew Shue (the cute but dumb one from Melrose Place) was caught on a hot mic basically saying that Jeffrey Epstein was murdered.
I agree with you, Amy.
Finally, Gordon Sondland, the Trump donor from Oregon with no foreign affairs experience who was then thrust into the role of ambassador to the European Union and put in charge of affairs with Ukraine, which is NOT in the European Union, but follow along, kids, this is The Worst Wing, after all…even he, EVEN HE, is turning against Trump.
In testimony to the impeachment inquiry, Sondland admitted that he recognized Trump’s maneuver with Ukraine to be “illegal” and always assumed it was a quid pro quo offer.
Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham has decided to put his head in the sand and told reporters that he will refuse to read the testimony. One can see that Graham, his fellow Republicans in Congress and a helluva whole lot of Americans brandishing red baseball caps simply refuse to shave with Occam’s Razor (i.e., the simplest solution is usually the correct one, i.e, either everyone is making up tales about Trump, or you know, Trump is).
Clemson’s On The ROY Bus
The initial College Football Playoff rankings were released last night, and they’re essentially meaningless, since the top four teams—Ohio State, LSU, Alabama and Penn State—are already set up as semifinal games this month. That is, LSU visits Bama on Saturday and Ohio State hosts the Nittany Lions on Nov. 23rd.
The minor surprise is that defending national champ Clemson, which has scored at least 52 points in four of its eight wins, is fifth. The Tigers have the 65th-toughest schedule in the land, however, and it’s not about to get more difficult. If Dabo’s Demons continue on to 13-0, they’ll be in. But playing Wofford AND Charlotte won’t earn you any respect.
La La Lanes
Oh, and my quasi-hometown of Phoenix is making the same error. And why is this happening? Because developers gonna develop (and there’s big money in it for both them and the pols who okay the zoning) and then they need a way to accommodate the influx.
This is why I hope everyone visits the Hamptons at least once in their lives. Those city fathers flat-out refuse to expand the main road beyond one lane in either direction. The result is massive traffic snarls on weekends but also it’s an impetus for many to stay away, and that keeps everything there manageable. It’s not just a coincidence that these are some of the wealthiest people in the U.S.A. They know what’s up. And how to handle it.
And Now A Word About Executive Pay…
Yesterday morning I saw a quote from hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones, who was speaking at the Greenwich Economic Forum: “How many employees do we have not making a living wage relative to what I’m paying the CEO? Hopefully we begin asking that in every damn boardroom.”
Before proceeding, let’s just put it out there that Jones himself is a billionaire.
Anyway, I sent this quote out into a group chat with some old friends who know my feelings about executive pay. And basically, they are this: Yes, the CEO should make the greatest wage at a company, but unless he’s the guy who actually founded the company or invented the product, there’s no reason for him to be earning between 50 to 100x that of the average employee salary.
Anyway, I sent that quote out and one response, from an entrepreneur who is a self-made success, was, “Maybe I’m just becoming cynical, but it sounds like Paul Tudor Jones may be considering a future in politics.”
Maybe, but it also sounds as if Jones is onto something ethical, too. I imagine when Abraham Lincoln proposed freeing the slaves that a few detractors pointed out that he would be able to count on the black vote going forward.
Another respondent, well aware of my being a sportswriter, used the old “How do you justify paying athletes so much?” argument, which is incredibly lame, a straw man, and also shows a fundamental lack of understanding. Getting past what pro athletes actually earn for a moment, the analogy between LeBron James and a CEO is inherently flawed because LeBron is not the CEO, he is THE PRODUCT. LeBron, or any pro athlete, is analagous to the Tesla, not to Elon Musk; to the Popeye’s chicken sandwich, not the CEO of Popeye’s.
No one buys a ticket to a Laker game because of Jeannie Buss. They buy one because of LeBron (and Anthony Davis). So that analogy is flawed.
Yet another friend, who operates a small business that would not exist without his expertise (which he acquired through four years of strenuous graduate school studies), said of executive pay, “It’s just the system.” Sounds like the title of a Bruce Hornsby song I remember, and you may remember what that song dealt with.
Now, let’s say that the CEO of a publicly traded company earns $5 million annually (most earn much more) and that the average salary among employees is $50,0000. That means he earns 100x the average. I proposed to my friend that if he earns $500,000 annually he certainly could not propose to his small staff that they each earn $5,000 (also a 100x difference) per annum or he’d have no more staff.
So what is the difference here? Scale. The large company makes a lot more revenue so they can still do the 100:1 ratio, but here’s the important thing: what the company is paying its average staffers isn’t exactly a fair wage, it’s the very lowest they can pay them without these workers saying “Take this job and shove it.”
And there are some very sinister ramifications to such a wage. First, the staffers have little ability to save money and thus create a better life for themselves in the future. Second, if they are married it means that both parents will likely have to work, which means that the development of the children will also suffer.
But mostly, there’s simply no justification to that salary. McDonald’s fired its CEO, Steve Easterbrook, this week due to a “consensual” relationship with an underling at the company. Is Easterbrook’s dismissal going to affect your decision to visit the drive-thru for a quarter pounder this week? Nope. But if LeBron left the Lakers, that would probably impact attendance or ticket prices.
CEOs should be rich. Sure. But just how rich? It’s flat-out unethical to be paying one man a king’s ransom while thousands of others are being paid a wage that allows them to barely scrape by. And let’s not pretend that the only people who might know how to run a business are grads of Wharton or Harvard MBA. If you think that, you may want to watch The Wire.
Even I, a dumb sports journalist, did okay with my one major entrepreneurial experience. I put in less than $20,000 of my own money to self-publish a book and through a little ingenuity and common sense made better than a ten-fold return. Running a business is simply good common sense and a lot of hard work and attention to detail. The idea that someone in that position deserves to be paid 100x that of the people who actually make the widgets is asinine. And arrogant.
Five Films: 1949
- White Heat It’s Jimmy Cagney, see, and he’s a tough guy, see, he’s a gangster, and he’s gonna plug you coppers full of lead. With Virginia “Hold The” Mayo. 2. Adams’ Rib: Comic classic with Tracy and Hepburn as spouses and lawyers. One of their best together.
- 3. On The Town Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra on shore leave again this time in New York, New York (a helluva town, the Bronx is up and he Battery’s down, the people ride in a hole in the ground) 4. She Wore A Yellow Ribbon John Wayne directed by John Ford in Monument Valley. And a love triangle. 5. In The Good Ol’ Summertime Judy Garland and Van Johnson in a musical remake of The Shop Around The Corner which would later be You’ve Got Mail. That baby in the final shot is Liza Minnelli.