Monday, October 16, 2006

"Don't Need No Stinkin' Ethics"



This mornings Star Tribune reported that United Health CEO William "Billy boy" McGuire has resigned amidst the options "back dating" scandals that are plaguing United Health and many large American corporations. It only reinforces my contention that despite public obeisance to the Stockholders, most American corporations are run by top management, for the benefit of top management.

What drives these men to collect bonuses far beyond what they could ever spend? I think it is ego. It is their way of keeping score. Of course they are all surprised when some one notices and questions it. Enron, Tycho, and now United Health. How do we solve the on going ethical problem in American business?

17 comments:

Ed Abbey said...

I guess I don't begrudge them of their money if they earned it. What I do pay attention to is how they spend it.

The former president of my company lived in a house that he bought for about $40,000 thirty years ago and drove a rusted out Datsun pickup to work up until he retired. The new president built a huge house out on the outskirts of town and drives a Mercedes. Though both have done excellent jobs in running the company and creating record profits for me and other employee owners, I definitely have a lot more respect for the first president.

Åsa said...

Mal: we are starting to see the same problem in Sweden. It’s starting to look like it does in dictator states where the power has all the resources at the expense of the people. We must find a balance between reward for what you do (the boss takes the most responsibility and should get paid accordingly) and a healthy workforce that is treated well and get paid enough so they too can spend money and keep the economy going.

Freewheel said...

I think you're right - it's ego. I think they measure their self-worth (and probably everyone else's worth) in dollars and cents.

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Yes, ego is indeed a factor, along with greed, power and position.

Senor Caiman said...

Mal,

I guess the silver lining is the trophy wife gets to keep earning 50% of that pension after the old dude kicks the bucket.

Fred said...

Good riddance.

Apple has had the same problem. How can Steve Jobs possibly claim, "I didn't realize it was a problem?"

Sorry, Mr. Jobs...you should go, too.

anchovy said...

Sometimes I find myself thinking: just the watch alone could solve all my financial woes if I could hock it. But class envy is an ugly thing....

Saur♥Kraut said...

Oh so true. The big boys are in it for Numero Uno.

sage said...

as if he couldn't live well enough on what they were paying him that he had to backdate stock options...

Fantastagirl said...

The top guys are in it for themselves. I'm thinking that they just keep trying to one-up the other guy - to prove he is better, when it all could be simply solved by a tape measure.

Bossy♥'s YOU said...

somehow none if the shocks me..is that a bad thing?

Balloon Pirate said...

1) Greater transparancy and accountability. ALL compensation, in whatever form, must be declared, and not in fine print.

2) Any special compensation tied to performance.

3) no more 'golden parachutes' for upper-echelon management. especially when the managers have been found to have behaved unethically.

4) Salary and normal compensation caps for upper management limited to 100 times the amount of the averege wage of non-management workers. This would likely bring a raise in workers salaries.

Yeharr

Anonymous said...

Delta just terminated my pension plan after cutting my pay in half. The former CEO, Leo Mullin, got hired the same year I did, and left the company as it headed into bankruptcy with bonuses and a huge retirement. It gets me upset just thinking about it...

Grant said...

I think IBM's lord and master addressed this when he said amassing wealth was a legitimate indication of one's status in the US, whether or not one actually uses it for anything. The problem is that these guys don't face much legal retribution for their misdeeds. Some CEO's need to be plucked from their cushy chairs and sent to a federal "pound me in the ass" prison as a warning to the others.

Liz said...

Could it all be about their penises?

Saur♥Kraut said...

there's no solving it except thru checks & balances. Ethics are dead because spiritual beliefs are.

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