God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Merit Pay

Tonight Rachel Maddow and Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri are discussing the obscenity of the bonuses given to CEO's by CEO's last year. Is there an American who is not incensed and inflamed by the greedy, nose-thumbing, narcissistic behavior of these people? In my mind, their future lies in the same circle of hell waiting to welcome Cheney and his buddy Rumsfield--men who sold out their country for, in the case of Cheney money and personal wealth and in the case of Rumsfield for a desire to be someone important. Both immune to the needs of the nation and its people.

I see great merit in Senator McCaskill's current plan to introduce legislation which would restrict CEO's pay to no more than that of the President of the United States. It seems rather logical that the person who holds the most demanding, responsible position in the world set the pay standard for others. Actually, in reality, these CEO's should be restricted to less than the president.

My question is, what do these men (and women, if the shoe fits) do? How do they earn their yachts, multiple abodes, chefs and butlers? Why should their wives be bedecked in gowns and jewels that our First Lady does not have? Not that she would have them, if she could--her values are pretty firmly rooted and don't include the grandiose.

Which brings me to the thought that prompted this rant. Merit pay.........

My background is in education as both teacher and administrator at the secondary level--grades 7-12. For years debate has swirled around the concept of merit pay for educators--pay based on student performance and achievement. To the uninitiated this sounds good--makes sense. In fact, on the surface, it's a pretty difficult idea to dispute--more or less a desirable goal.

But, as with so many ideas, the devil is in the details and the details are neither simple nor definable. There are so many variables affecting achievement that to use it to either reward or penalize a teacher is nonsensical.

Back to CEO's...it seems that developing a merit pay system for these no more than corporate employees would be much simpler and doable than doing so for teachers--which is impossible.

Beginning with a salary/bonus ceiling below that of POTUS, the actual amount should be based on company efficiency, performance, employee satisfaction and morale, public service and accountability by the company and company contribution to community need. Additionally, there should be a means of outside auditing and evaluation of the CEO--the regulation that was put aside for so long by misguided principles.

It would be interesting to listen to these CEO magnates who, undoubtedly, believe in merit pay for teachers, as they discussed the idea of merit pay for themselves.

The role of a leader is likened to that of a servant. The job is to serve personnel they supervise. It's time that corporate America understand that it serves the American people rather than continue the misconception that the reverse is true.



Kim said...

Well Jane, I have to say, I do believe in merit pay for teachers but not as much as I believe the tenure system needs to go bye-bye.

By the way, I believe the President of Rutgers University (a public school, funded with taxpayer money) earns more than the President of the United States. I can't begin to tell you how it incests me.

I'm not sure though on the limit of what you say only because I do believe POTUS is underpaid and really, it's the perks, and future earnings (speaking engagements) that should be included when considering the entire package (remember, POTUS literally has no living expenses). However, I would love to see a formula that says a CEO cannot earn more than "x" times that of his/her lowest paid employee. Seriously, how much more can any human be worth than another?

Here's where the breakdown really occurs though - CEOs of public companies should have to answer to the board of directors, appointed by the owners of the company (aka stock owners). But that's not what really happens - it's an old boys network and these people have basically rigged it so there's no accountability to the owners. Maybe simplistic, but in my mind, it would be the same as if the government had no accountability to the people - perhaps bypassing the electorate all together.

Judith in Umbria said...

From my POV, merit pay for teachers would only work if the teacher went ohome with the kids to see that they did their homework, didn't play sports or Wii all night or weren't distracted by battling parents every night.
OTH, the big companies recruit hot execs like signing football players. Instead of fearing that someone will turn down their reasonable offer, they ought to be scared that they are making offers these greedy oinkers will accept.
So why is it the American government as our representative cannot sue any company who received loans from us to recover bonuses? Bonuses are for making money, not throwing down rat holes. I do not see why that isn't possible and isnt happening. If they didn't get our money, there's nothing we can do, but shareholders better look at their dividends because that 4.5 million for a 29 year old kid is their money.

BTW, the president does pay for personal expenses including food, clothing, schools, etc. Lots of things are required by the peril of that job that wouldn't be for the CEO of Kraft Foods.

Jane said...

Kim, I know that many people question tenure and often with good reason; however, if it were not for the protection it provides, I would have been fired several years ago for "teaching communism" when I had students read The Lottery and for having students read Steinbeck's Red Pony. I believe the complaint to the board was something like "We all know the kind of man he was. Just read the last line of The Grapes of Wrath." The board was in agreement and would have gladly let me go. This was in John Birch country. So tenure was critical.

Judith, I agree with you in all ways. It seems as if we are powerless in the face of corruption.