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Sometime in the 1980s, a new iconic figure began to emerge - the CEO.  Prior to that, CEOs may have made folks' socks roll up-and-down at the Chamber of Commerce or maybe at the local country club, but most Americans didn't pay them much attention.  CEO images that pop into my mind from earlier times are "Engine Charlie" Wilson ("what is good for General Motors is good for the country") or Sewell Avery being carried bodily out of his office after FDR seized the company in WWII.  Remember when JFK was quoted as having called steel executives sons-of-bitches privately?  Outside of Republican circles, most people seemed to agree with him.  When I was in college, b-school was where the dullards and athletes went and I don't think I ever heard of anyone going for an MBA until the late 70s or thereabouts.  But in the 80s, CEOs began to be spoken of with reverence; they were elevated in the public mind to the status of philosopher-kings - wise men who knew best and should be deferred to by the rest of us.  Well, Mitty, or more importantly, the crowd he was caught on video speaking to in Boca Raton brought that nonsense to a dead, screeching halt!

I never quite bought into CEO worship.  The ones I have known (and their underlings down to the vice president or even senior manager level) were, for the most part, pretty boring people.  They never seemed to have intellectual interests of any kind.  To the extent the family was involved with the arts or public life, that was part of the wife's "job".  They never seemed to read newspapers other than the WSJ and they never seemed to read books at all.  Apart from the seemingly obligatory regular visits to the nearest golf course, they appeared to me to have no lives apart from their jobs and since I didn't have the remotest interest in the jobs most of them had, there wasn't much conversation available.  And of course, for almost all of them, "conversation" meant sitting around agreeing with a few other like-minded, middle-aged, straight, white men - clones of themselves, in other words - that the world of the 1950s was the world in which all humanity should live in perpetuity.  There were and are exceptions, of course, but they were distinctly the exceptions, not the rule.

And that is part of the world we all have had a peek at over the past few days - a world populated entirely by smug, self-satisfied, intellectually uncurious (notice how the ones who spoke up tended to speak as though their questions were written for them by Fixed Noise?), gentilely racist, thoroughly unpleasant people.  And Mitty is their prophet.

No one who has ever had an independent thought; read a book, or taken time to care for the problems our fellow humans face - the ones who didn't make their money the old-fashioned way by inheriting it, that is; no one like that should even consider voting for him.  But we should all thank him for his contribution to ending CEO-worship.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phoebe Loosinhouse, Tinfoil Hat

    "The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough to those who have little. " --Franklin D. Roosevelt

    by jg6544 on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 10:16:16 AM PDT

  •  The Celebrity CEO (0+ / 0-)

    The nation collectively decided to throw off President Carters sweater and turn up the thermostat and screw being fiscally conservative and let's all celebrate the Captains and Kings of Industry and usher in the Reagan era of conspicuous consumption!

    And then we got successive celebrity CEOs, their faces emblazoned on Business Week magazine and Time and Newsweek. The executive suite guys who had always been faceless nameless blobs in grey suits to the public became lionized for their (supposed) preternatural business acumen and Lee Iococa and Jack Welch and others were suddenly even more than Captains and Kings, they were more akin to gods at whose feet  we all worshiped (well, some of us anyway). And how much is a godlike figure worth in terms of salaries? Turns out there is actually no upper limit and because their salaries are always judged in terms of relationship to one another (peer ranking), it has no place to go but  up up up , who cares if it's completely disproportionate to any compensation scale before in the history of the earth. And there is STILL no apparent ceiling to executive compensation to this very day.

    Meanwhile, as we all know, worker compensation has remained stagnant for generations, regardless of the financial health of the corporations and the upper tier. They Got Theirs and They Got Yours Too.

    It really is enough to make a person physically ill just as those Bain ads imply.

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 10:39:00 AM PDT

  •  Duh. Compressive Individual Taxation Repealed In (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tinfoil Hat


    Before then, above around 3 million in today's dollars, you'd surrender 71% of further compensation to taxes. So execs were not being paid today's astronomical compensations, there was no point in it.

    The rich went berserk the very moment we enabled them to get as rich as they could as fast as they could. For half a century before that, we understood how sociopathic such an economy was.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 11:09:37 AM PDT

  •  I did a diary a few years back on this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There are two key words here: "risk" and "wealth creation". The assumption is that they "create wealth" through taking "risk". The more risk, the more god-like they see themselves, even if it was somebody else's money that got risked and they lost every dime.

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