Income Inequality

I just read where Seattle Mariner second baseman Robinson Cano signed a $240 million 10 year deal.  This amounts to $24 million a year or $461,000 a week.  LeBron James makes nearly three times that — $59 million a year (with endorsements) and Kobe Bryant makes  $61 million a year (with endorsements).  The highest paid athletes are Tiger Woods $78 million a year and Roger Federer – $71 million a year.  Not bad gigs for shooting hoops, playing basketball or tennis or – still my beating heart – playing golf.  One difference among members of this group is that LeBron, Kobe and Robinson get paid their salaries regardless of their performance.  Robinson may bat .125 and drop every ball that comes to him.  And he’ll get paid.  Tiger and Roger?  They don’t get paid for tour events unless they win.          

When the CEO of a Fortune 500 company earns a few million dollars a year, many squeal that such compensation is unfair.  Yet what about the aforementioned athletes?  Or heaven knows the actors/actresses who bank tens of millions of dollars.  On one film.  We rarely hear complaints about earnings of those in the NFL, NBA or MLB or the Screen Actors Guild. 

If a CEO is performing – providing jobs for tens of thousands of workers and returning good profits for shareholders – is there a metric that suggests his/her contribution is worth more to America (to wit – the economy) than a second baseman who earns 10 times as much?   Most CEO’s – and managers – receive bonuses based on productivity — and success.  Just like in golf or tennis.  Some salaries and compensation arrangements are wayyyyy beyond reason.  But it seems to me that productivity and success are justifiable components for compensation for those at the upper levels.  Does a basketball player merit a million plus dollars a week?  And what do we do (if anything) with – or for – those at the other end of the comp spectrum?    One of the answers is providing, enhancing and streamlining job and educational opportunities.  Another is to consider measures set forth in my post of May 11, 2012.  What are other answers?   One is that I should have gone to Q School.  Heck.  Maybe I still can. . . .