Clarifying executive power

Peter Frase is right (“Are CEOs workers, and should we care?”) that talking only about ratios of CEO to worker pay ignores positions in the M-C-M’ circuit. The pay of CEOs and other top executives is almost entirely a return on capital. Perhaps there’s some reward to skilled labor there, but nothing approaching $11 million. Unlike workers, who live under harsh labor discipline, your average CEO is lightly supervised by a board. It’s a rare day when a bad CEO gets fired. The CEO class enjoys an esprit de corps; they sit on… Read More

The CEO as humble worker

For some reason—pathological liberalism? being in the pay of the Washington Post?—Matthew Yglesias wants to blur the distinction between worker and boss. In a strange post at his new Slate playpen (“CEO Pay Drives Inequality”), Yglesias declares the old “rhetoric about ‘workers’ is really a legacy of an outdated time.” Why, you might ask, when class distinctions have a salience not only in fact but in discourse that they haven’t seen in many decades? Because unlike the rentiers of old, today’s rich work hard. Really, Matt, the point isn’t how hard you… Read More

David Brooks: making stuff up, again

Ah, the charmed life of a New York Times columnist: you can say anything you want, true or not. David Brooks has a long history of, shall we say, careless use of evidence. Back in 2004, Sasha Issenberg did a masterful fact-checking of his earlier work: “Boo-Boos in Paradise.” Our serial fictioneer is at it again. In today’s column, he defends Germany’s stubborn insistence on austerity for the so-called PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain) as a defense of “a simple moral formula: effort should lead to reward as often as… Read More