The quintessential example of America’s emerging entitlement mentality can be found in what has come to be called the Occupy Movement, a loose confederation of statists, socialists, spoiled youngsters suffering from delusions of entitlement, the usual cast of wayward rebels in search of a cause that will give meaning to their directionless lives, and feral criminals looking for opportunities to rob, rape, and loot. One of the most consistent charges of this inconsistent movement is that of corporate greed. Occupiers think corporate big wigs make too much money, money that should be more fairly distributed. In other words, they want some of what corporate executives earn without having to work for it.
The Occupiers might actually stumble into a legitimate issue if they would focus their venom on the concept of large corporations being bailed out by small taxpayers rather than on corporate salaries—salaries every one of them would gladly accept provided they did not have to earn them. But if they did this, their protests would have to be relocated to Washington, D.C. and set up near the Capitol and the White House. Of course, this is not going to happen because the designated enemy of Occupiers is the big bad corporate executive, not the pandering politician who distributes the government entitlements they covet. Even Occupiers know better than to bite the hand that feeds them.
Occupiers are fond of claiming that corporate big wigs are paid too much. They may well be, but that is not my call. Nor is it theirs. And this is the critical point. Who or what should determine the level of pay a corporate executive receives? Should it be the general public? How about Congress or the President? Should employees of corporations vote on the issue? The answer to all of these questions and any other alternatives suggested is a resounding no. The only legitimate determiner of a corporate executive’s salary is the marketplace. Salaries for corporate executives and all others who work should be determined by their market value.
I find it interesting that the Occupiers do not question the enormous salaries, benefits, and perquisites of professional athletes in the NBA, NFL, American League, and National League. After all, there are plenty of Americans who just shake their heads every time they hear mumbling multimillionaire athletes being interviewed, athletes who cannot put together even one coherent sentence. Americans can be forgiven for wondering about a world in which an individual who cannot even speak clearly can make millions of dollars. But with the salaries of athletes the determining factor is and should be market value, not intelligence, education, or poise.
The fairest, most appropriate determiner of salaries for corporate executives, professional athletes, and everyone else is market value. If the market thinks a corporate executive or even the most inarticulate athlete is worth millions, then he is worth it—at least for the time being. This is because, unlike people, the market is not influenced by politics, bias, favoritism, or poor judgment. The market is completely objective about perceived value. Of course, market value is a fickle concept that can change quickly on the basis of poor performance. When that happens, executives and athletes are quickly cast aside and replaced with someone else whose market value is perceived to be higher.
One of the reasons Occupiers do not question the salaries of professional athletes is that they could not possibly do their jobs, and they know it. It is obvious to them, not to mention the market, that they do not have the talent. Occupiers can easily see that they would be an embarrassment to themselves and their teams if they were somehow put in the lineup of a professional baseball, basketball, or football team. But they fail or, at least, refuse to make the same connection concerning large corporations, or small ones for that matter.
What Occupiers do not acknowledge is that they are no more competent to be corporate executives than they are to be professional athletes. They lack the education and experience, not to mention the motivation, talent, ambition, vision, and entrepreneurial spirit. As a result, they have no market value in corporate America. If Occupiers want to receive the types of salaries corporate executives earn, they should put down their protest signs and begin doing the hard work of building up their market value.