Is it just me, or does anyone else find something egregious about the fact that the resident idiots of the reality show "Jersey Shore" receive roughly $30,000 per episode while the median annual earnings for someone aged 25 in the labor force hovers at about $32,000.
If you extrapolate that out for 12-15 episodes, vapid cast members such as "Snooki" and "J-Wow" stand to earn as much as $450K, not counting fees for personal appearances.
That's pretty fair compensation for C-level executives, never mind faux celebrities who did their best impression of a street mime when once asked where the UN was located.
Which brings me to my topic de jour: Glass Lewis & Co.'s annual executive compensation report, which traditionally has detailed how corporate executives continue to command large salaries despite dismal company performances.
This year's report, "2010 Pay Dirt" did find that the pay packages for CEOs in the S&P 500 declined in 2009, but conversely, many firms continue to overpay their executives when measured against a pay-for-performance model.
A sampling of the companies that the report singled out for poor pay-for-performance scores in 2009 included Aetna, Chesapeake Energy, Micron Technology, XL Group and Yahoo. Communications concern Sprint Nextel has the dubious honor of earning a spot on Glass Lewis's Overpaid 25 list for the third consecutive year.
The report identified a total of 34 executives who were awarded more than $25 million in annual compensation in 2009, with 16 taking in over $30 million. The top earner Gregory Maffei, president and CEO of Liberty Media Corp., who was awarded an estimated $188 million. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who decidedly does not need the money, earned $61 million.
Glass Lewis even identified two directors who served on the compensation committee of THREE companies that received a "D" or an "F" grade in pay-for-performance.
Those who have read me throughout the years, know that salary versus performance is one of my emotional advocacy platforms. Shareholders have more than a right to demand competence as opposed to tenure.
I wrote a number of times in this space about the obscene $140 million pay package awarded to former Disney Corp. president Michael Ovitz after just 14 disastrous months at the entertainment conglomerate.
At that time I wrote that Ovitz should have been fined $140 million for his years-earlier blunder of launching the thespian career of the impossible-to-embarrass Steven Seagal.
Ditto for former General Motors Chairman Roger Smith, who routinely lost billions and then when he retired was rewarded with a lavish board seat at PepsiCo.
I never felt that adhering to a pay-for-performance model was a complex concept, it's routine for example in coaching - from high school to the pros. A few consecutive losing seasons and they'll fill your tank with gas, invite you to call the local realtor and slap a "For Sale" sign on your home.
Now if only somehow Snooki had a similar model in her contract.
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