Sunday, December 24, 2006

Manipulation Is Manipulation No Matter How You Spin It

Where do you all those political consultants go when the election cycle is over?

They do commercial work for large corporations. Although they have to moderate their techniques, manipulation is manipulation no matter where or how you spin it.

Consider CEO salaries. During the Clinton years a law was passed attempting to put a ceiling on the disparity between CEO and the average employee salary difference and make salaries more performance-based. It also put the burden of monitoring and officiating on the board of directors. But shortly after the law was passed (1993) so many loopholes were found that, for a paltry $5,000 consulting fee, any tax lawyer or accountant could document how a particular corporation and their board of directors met the requirements of the law (but not the moral implied law that was intended). So the serious disparities have continued undeterred. The anecdotes of seemingly ludicrous CEO pay never stop; every week a fresh batch of fat cats parade as examples of capitalism run amok.

When the head of a company gets $200 million for his severance package but was fired for lack of performance there is a riple effect throughout the corporation and the business world. Loyalties diminish; schisms widen; paranoia increases; profits are wrongly used (in this case $200 million of profits); and hopes for a better life working within that corporation are dashed. By the way, you and I are paying a good portion of that $200 million because it's tax deductible to the corporation.

Call in the spin masters to try and mitigate the damage. Release the information around Christmas time when no one is paying attention; release information slowly and in confusing terms; obfuscate. One form of obfuscation is to commission an economic analysis of how CEO's (and their top-5 team of similar highly paid executives) enhance corporate performance and support their outrageous pay. There are a lot of non-profit economic think tanks and universities that can use the commission money AND, if you don't like what they write, trash it and find another one that reports what you need it to say. Release those studies around the same time as the damaging information is released. Now THAT'S obfuscation!

It's sad and shameful that things aren't improving and that spinmasters are exacerbating the situation by clouding the facts. It's immoral that this year's top paid CEO got $254 million (Forbes). That's 7,000 times greater than the average salary for his corporation! SEVEN THOUSAND TIMES!

I think it naive that the new Democrat Congress will make any inroads in this area but I'm forwarding a copy of this blog to my congresswoman and two senators just in case.