In 2008, we have seen the financial services industry and the auto industry in the United States teeter on the brink of collapse, yet some of these bozos continue to collect enormous salaries and bonuses thanks to tax payers. How long can our society keep rewarding bad performance? In high school, if you made Ds and Fs, you weren't rewarded by getting a scholarship to Duke University or MIT. As a matter of fact, our culture teaches us early on that if you do a good job, you will be rewarded. The executives at these firms should feel guilty about taking this kind of money while thousands in their industry are being laid off.
In the early 1980s, the Vermont ice cream company Ben and Jerry's had a policy that no employee could make more than five times what the lowest paid worker earned. In 1986, this rule capped the CEO's pay at $81,000. The money saved from having this policy was redistributed throughout Ben and Jerry's to help the company grow. This policy was eventually scrapped in 1994 when Ben Cohen, the "Ben" of Ben and Jerry's, retired from the top position. It proved difficult for the Vermont-based company to find an outside leader that would adhere to the unique policy set in place by the founders. Now I know what you are thinking......isn't this SOCIALISM!! You're absolutely right. Ben and Jerry's brought a dose of socialism into the American corporate world and it worked. Employee morale was good, the company did well and plenty of U.S. citizens continued to eat great ice cream. I'm certainly not suggesting that all companies institute a policy just like Ben and Jerry's, but similar logic could work. What if the policy said that the highest paid worker can't earn more than thirty times the lowest paid worker? If the lowest paid worker made $30,000 per year then the most anyone could make would be $900,000. I think $900,000 would be plenty to support a lavish lifestyle for anyone. The bottom line is that socialism gets a bad rap. A spoonful of socialism might be the right medicine for corporate America because the greed thing has got to stop.