Sunday, May 29, 2011

Denver mayor's race spawns a business solution

Poll results putting Michael Hancock in a 10-point lead over Chris Romer in the Denver mayor's runoff spawned a quote from a Romer supporter that suggests a national solution for excessive executive compensation.

Claire Brockbank, the Romer supporter, was quoted by the Denver Post, saying, "I don't get the sense Hancock has private-sector experience, and, to me, being mayor, that's a CEO job."

Great quote, but consider that mayoral CEOs across the country are paid considerably less than private-sector CEOs and yet often perform at a much higher level since they face electoral accountability on a regular basis.

Why not bring private-sector CEO compensation down to the level of major-city mayors across the country, based on the argument that whenever someone rises to the level of competency necessary to run a corporation in America they should be willing to serve the best interests of the company based on an altruistic instinct of public service.

After all, the efficient operations of our nation's corporations  -- who are considered the equal of individual people nowadays, at least by the U.S. Supreme Court -- benefit the common good and "promote the general welfare" of all citizens, just as the preamble to the U.S. Constitution asserts.

I watched "Too Big to Fail" and "Inside Job" last night, the two film studies of the 2008 financial crisis, and executive compensation was mentioned as an issue in both. The heads of our country's largest banks protested in both films any government attempt to limit a company's ability to pay whatever it takes to recruit the kinds of brains that got us into the financial crisis of 2008.

I say, though, at the CEO level, the individual executive is essentially doing the nation and the company a public service and should be paid as such. Lower-level execs, in order to prevent the feared brain drain, could be recruited at limitless salaries if the lower-paid CEO signs on to that strategy being in the best interests of his or her company. And the country, for that matter.

Now, to go beyond that single topic for this post, I would also like to point out to my cousin Roger Wehling that Hancock's lead -- a surprise to both of us I think -- might be a reflection of voter discontent with politicians who seem to have their success handed to them by virtue of unmatchable campaign funding and pre-politics name recognition.

Voters want today's elected office holders to accomplish through public policy what change can be interpreted from the popular support they received in their election.

For Obama, it was universal health care. For Hancock it's going to be a fair shake for all citizens, not only those with insider status or pre-existing political clout. If Hancock is elected, he'll have as difficult a time producing for his supporters as Obama had producing a public option.

Politics is no longer an easy game to play in America.

And finally, the headline in the Post that elicited from me a shout out: "Egypt opens Gaza crossing."

Hooray! Hamas has to realize now that peaceful, nonviolent political action -- which, having taken place in Egypt, has led to the opening of the crossing and will lead to the eventual dismantling of the Israeli blockade of Gaza -- is the most effective opposition to Israel they will ever be able to adopt.

Violence is for thugs. It never accomplishes any nation's ultimate, legitimate goals.


  1. I think you'll appreciate, Bob, the fact that I was just out with a couple of 40-somethings. One of our major topics of discussion was "how the hell are the CEO's STILL getting away with these excessive compensations?"
    Too, had I been polled, I would have told the pollster that I am voting for Hancock for the very reason you ferreted out. I'm for the "little" guy with no "real" experience.
    Why? Because he did it all by himself!

  2. Thanks for the comment, Erika. It really is no time for politics as usual, and I think a lot of voters just keep trying to elect someone who will get something done.