Why Corporate CEO’s Deserve Their Bonuses…

I recently sent out an email to my friends and close family members with an interesting quote:

“You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”

I received a response from someone that perhaps was a recipient of a ‘forward’ of the e-mail who noted:

“The rich don’t work for their money the same way the poor do. Just because a guy is a CEO of a big company he gets millions of dollars in bonuses. Yet his performance, and therefore his bonus, is built on the backs of the baseline workers. So he is essentially getting money for nothing and other people (again, the baseline workers) are taking care of him.”

How I responded:

I totally disagree with your naive statement that the rich (or corporate CEO’s) don’t work for their money and wealth as hard as the poor.  It was a very stupid, uneducated statement and here are just a few samples of why:

* My husband and I own a carpet cleaning business working 10-12 hours a day, 6-7 days a week, to get where we are today. We bring in over six figures in sales annually, but netted less than $20K last year because of overhead expenses.  We aren’t rich, but we aren’t poor, we pay our taxes on time, and we pay our part-timer workers quite well (15% commission versus minimum wages) – and providing them a source of income during a down economy – when we don’t really need to hire help (we can do all the work ourselves).  If we added up what we paid our workers – they would have a higher income than we end up with as net on our annual tax returns.  We do hope to be millionaires one day – it’ll be years down the road – but it’s not because we ‘walked over our worker’s backs.’

* If you have seen the movie, the movie ‘Pursuit of Happyness’ which Will Smith starred in and was based on a TRUE story, you will see where his character, Chris Gardner, who worked hard and sacrificed, ended up becoming a multi-millionaire on Wall Street, and owning his own business and is CEO of his own stockbrokerage firm, Gardner Rich & Co, based in Chicago, Illinois.  Do you think this person walked on his employees backs to get there – do you think he doesn’t deserve his million dollar bonuses?  I think he deserves every penny he gets!

* Steve Jobs of Apple Computers and Bill Gates of Microsoft both started out working 20-hour days from garage-level type of businesses to get to their wealth today.  Do you not think they worked hard enough to get their bonuses they earn today?  Every dime they owned went into their businesses, and the money they put into the business didn’t go into fancy cars, big houses, etc., when they were just getting started.  Their companies provided JOBS for others and eventually those employees grew in number to thousands based on the hard work and success they worked towards as CEO’s of their own companies.  I think they deserve every penny they get!

* Condolezza Rice and Colin Powell – both very rich – both coming up from rags to riches by getting a good education and getting their butts off the couch and doing something about their career.  After they served their country, they are making hundreds of thousands on speaking engagements.  (Colin Powell charges approximately $10K+ a speech – not a bad fee for a 45-minute message.  And he has it memorized so well – he doesn’t even need notes!)  They are smart enough to have incorporated their names into businesses, with themselves as CEO’s.  Do you not think they deserve the money or bonuses they receive as CEO’s of their own companies?  Whose backs did they walk on to get to their wealth today?

* Shaun Hannity of Fox News – rags to riches, has four children, one with a severe handicap.  Do you not think he earned his wealth? He is CEO of his own company, and works w/ FOX news channel as a contract entity.  Doesn’t he deserve his bonuses when the ratings for his show go up and viewer-ship rises?

* Oprah Winfrey – once of the richest women in the country – rags to riches – if there was a dirt poor origin, I don’t know what other proof to give you…and if your statement was true, she and her company is treating all her workers as inferior and below-pay grade employees, while she ‘walks all over their backs’ while she sits back making her millions – excuse me – Billions!

* Tony Robbins – a motivational speaker – has made millions on his message to get your ‘arse’ moving, do for oneself, and get out there and get it done!  He is CEO of 14 companies – did he walk all over his employee’s backs to get where he is today?  I don’t think he would be able to get away with that, based on his message he provides in his teachings and motivational speeches.

* Most millionaires in the United States today worked their butts off, many after going through years of college, sacrificing their personal time, gambling their homes, sometimes losing their families due to their hard work to get to where they are today.  IF you are insinuating those CEO’s of multi-million dollar companies didn’t earn their salaries after getting their MBA’s, struggling to grow their companies to be top winners and income producers and don’t deserve the big bonus checks – you are dead wrong.

* Lee Iacocca is one of the best samples of a CEO bringing up a company out of the morass of mediocrity to making his car company one of the best in the business.  He even took a one-dollar a year salary for a few years until Chrysler did become profitable again.  You don’t think he didn’t deserve his later millions of dollars a year salary after he turned the company around – CREATING JOBS for more people, which in turn created and sustained business for small companies that did business with the car company and in the communities for which the employees purchased their groceries, their gas, their hardware, and sent their kids to schools in government tax bases public schools and private tuition based parochial schools?

Many of these millionaires provide social responsibility to hundreds and thousands of people across the globe!  In effect, returning their personal, as well a corporate wealth back to the community, as well as in international communities (President Reagan called it the ‘trickle-down theory’ and it WORKED!).

*  Do you recall the show where Oprah Winfrey invited an entire audience of ‘struggling to pay their bills’ folks and gave each and every one of them a car?  Did you know she spent millions to build a school in Africa for girls who would have lived in poverty for the rest of their lives without the education this school provided?  Those are just the tip of the iceberg of where she has funneled millions of her own money into charitable institutions.  Do you not think she deserves her own bonuses?  Those bonuses, coming out of her corporation, are where she gets the funds to pour into those charitable institutions.

*  Did you know Bill and Melinda Gates have given millions of dollars of their personal wealth to kids in school communities across the country, as well as internationally, to provide computers for those who can’t afford them?  Do you believe Bill Gates didn’t deserve his bonus checks?

*  Bill O’Reilly of Fox News – provides hundreds of thousands of dollars from his sales of website books and other items to charity.  Do you believe his hard work and charity work towards the Habitat for Humanity, City Harvest, Operation Shoebox, Wounded Warrior, Families of Military Casualties, Haitian Health Foundation, Ride the Wall, Best Friends, Elevate Hope, the CANDLES Holocaust Museum, Autism, Star Relief, Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, the Fuller Center for Housing, just to name a few, are the results of a Corporate CEO walking on the backs of his workers to gain wealth?  He’s rich enough from his baseline salary that he can afford to sell products on the side and give the proceeds away.  Do you not think he deserves his bonuses when his ratings go up?

And those are just the tip of the iceberg – so again, you claim these corporate millionaires got to where they are on the backs of their workers.  How come you are NOT noting how much those same millionaires have given back to the community of those workers?

What you don’t understand also is CEO’s are in place to take the blame if anything goes wrong, if the profits go down, if there is a huge lawsuit against the company, to name a few negative actions for which they are responsible.  They are there to take the dirt, deal with the crisis, and correct mistakes the ‘worker-bees’ make.  They aren’t just sitting in their ivory towers twiddling their thumbs.  The entire company’s future pivots on decisions they make, business they develop, research and development they sponsor, decisions to provide more benefits for their workers or increase tuition reimbursement expenses, and/or provide company-paid, (reducing profits) money to pay for training to increase the value of the employee’s skill sets as well as provide an avenue for them to grow into promotional opportunities so they too, one day, may have that shot at becoming a CEO, too.    That is a heavy load and responsibility.  And yes – because of this – they deserve their large bonuses.

And – the workers – they weren’t forced to work for those companies.  No one came up to them and shackled them to the factory machinery and threatened their lives if they didn’t work in that company.  Most of those workers came to work for a company because it offered a great paycheck and welfare benefits so they wouldn’t have to worry about their kids getting sick and not being able to pay for the bills.  Those companies offered their employees the opportunity to get into pension plans or 401(k) plans to empower the workers to save for and control their own retirements.  The companies provided training and tuition reimbursement to those willing and wanting to go to school to increase their career and promotional opportunities.  When the local Ford plant here in Norfolk, VA closed down, Ford ensured the workers were either placed in new outside jobs, transferred to car-making plants in other states, or paid them a severance check large enough for those workers to start their own businesses or go back to school to get a degree in a new career.  It sure doesn’t sound like those CEO’s for Ford were “sticking it to the little guy,” to me.

What do you think about them apples?  These are the truths or as close as you can get to the truths for reality of why CEO’s deserve their bonuses and salaries.

Ronald Reagan recognized when the wealthy are left alone and their wealth isn’t taxed to death, they spend more of it, hire more maids, more landscapers, buy more luxury yachts so the boat builders have jobs, and go out to eat at restaurants more often so waitresses and waiters have more tips to take home to feed their families, and the cash registers at Wal-Mart are ringing more so they need more cashiers who now can afford to buy that car or go to school to get their degree to work their way up to being Wall Street analysts because more folks are investing in stocks and bonds of companies who are paying their CEO’s and Board of Directors more money.  Even Clinton recognized that the Welfare system was broken and changed it to provide only for those that were truly needy – those on disability, welfare mothers who couldn’t afford child-care to go to school, and the new welfare system provided the opportunities to get those ‘poor people’ the advantages they needed – but they had to get it done in three years.  If you sat on your arse and didn’t do for yourself, then you were on the street – where you belonged – if you weren’t invested in yourself or providing for your family the responsible way.

Yes, there are a few millionaires who have made it to where they are today without a lot of sweat equity – those who inherited their wealth or hit the lotto – but you can’t focus on them as the primary model from which to prove that all millionaires or corporate CEO’s didn’t deserve their wealth and it should be taken from them.  Yes – Paris Hilton had a rich daddy to start off, but even she works her butt off as the CEO of her company(ies) with her lines of clothing, perfumes, her production of her ‘reality’ shows.  You think she sleeps all day and doesn’t do anything deserving to enjoy that wealth?  I don’t think so. Don’t underestimate her ‘on-screen’ persona as a blonde-bobble-head.   She is the cover of every other tabloid magazine for a reason!  Even bad publicity is good publicity for her marketing brand and products.  She is richer today than she was when she graduated from high school because she used her looks and personality to make money.  Does she deserve her bonus as a CEO of her own company – absolutely!

That’s how capitalism works and the more the rich get richer, the better off the poor people are because they do and will eventually profit from the trickle down of the excess of rich folk’s spending of discretionary income.  The more the wealthy are taxed on their money, the less money there is to go around and to share to those who would normally benefit from the wealthy.

Before you make a broad statement about corporate CEO’s not deserving their wealth or bonuses – visit their company websites or the CEO’s personal website and check out what they are doing with those bonus checks in their or their company’s social responsibility before you accuse them of getting their bonuses and wealth “for doing nothing.”  They may be doing more for their workers, their community, and charitable work for those “Poor People in Need” that you are championing than you think.  And if those CEO’s lose their jobs, and their big bonuses, who do you think are going to suffer the most? Not the CEO, because they’ll find another job quickly elsewhere or simply retire on their current wealth.

The people that are going to be hurting are those who benefit directly from these rich CEO’s wealth and their corporate benevolence = the “poor people.’

POOR PEOPLE.

Let me tell you what I know about poor people.  I have lived amongst them, learned about them, and I HAVE BEEN ONE!   And I have worked side-by-side with them and there are commonalities among them I’ve noted over and over again.  I know about it because I WAS LIVING IN POVERTY for several years of my life (you know how much money it takes to buy just enough tomato soup and crackers for two people to eat for every meal for a week? – $25.00 in 1980).  Let me make a few observations about what I personally have observed about ‘poor people.’

* (Most) Poor people have no desire, no incentive, and no wish to get up off their butts to do something about their lives.  They are content to sit and watch TV every day instead of seeking out role-models, or just getting out of the house and doing something.

* (Most) Poor people have no desire to get an education or training to get ahead – when there are so many “FREE” options for them.  If you are living in, near, or below the poverty level in the United States you can get a FREE education – its called a PELL GRANT that will pay for every penny of expense to achieve an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree from any accredited and/or public college or university.

*  Not all, but I’ve seen my share, of poor people seem to believe they DESERVE something from the rich.  I don’t know why – they didn’t earn it, don’t deserve it, haven’t done anything to get it, so why should they get anything?  AND WHY should those who have worked hard all their lives, kissed butts, stayed late to work evening or weekend hours to get projects finished, taken huge responsibilities onto their shoulders, and those who put years of hard work into their career be responsible for pulling the poor out of their poverty, when the poor don’t want to do anything for themselves?  I don’t get it!

*  (Most) Poor People are poor because they make horrid decisions, don’t know how to make good decisions, and if anything, charity missions or organizations need to teach these types of people how to make GOOD decisions as a primary goal to ending poverty.  Get the boyfriend that beats the crap out of you weekly out of your house and your kid’s lives!  Get rid of that clunker car that costs you $400 a month fixing it, forcing you to use an Advanced Check Cashing service w/ usury rates to borrow the money – and start taking the bus.   Stop cashing your check and spending it at the ABC store and drinking your paycheck down the drain.  Stop buying lottery tickets where the chance of being hit by lightning are higher than winning that hitting a jackpot number.  Stop buying your kid’s name brand clothing plus a fancy new car every year to impress your neighbors when your house is falling around your ears and you can’t pay the water bill.  If you can’t pay your bills with your eight-to-five, Monday through Friday job, then get a Saturday job instead of complaining you need time to socialize with your friends.   Those are the types of stupid decisions I see made over and over again by those who can’t seem to pull themselves up out of poverty or out of debt.

*  I’ve seen some lazy people out there – not only will they not do anything for themselves, they don’t think they should do anything for others either.  If those people are poor – they should be poor and get what they deserve – NOTHING!  Even when I was poor, I still helped my community by getting out to volunteer for events, taking it upon myself to help my neighbors in need, and going out of my way to do for others what I wished others would / could do for me if I ever had a need.

I took advantage of the PELL GRANT, ended up having a business of my own, then eventually got my Masters Degree, which enabled me to support my daughter as a single parent.  And because I was able to use my Master’s Degree to get a great job, I’m now able to start working on my PhD (should graduate this Dec. 2012). THAT’S what is called getting up off your butt and working for what you want and need for yourself and your family!  And, there are thousands of dollars of free scholarships offered annually – many of which go un-rewarded because no one applies for them.  There is free training provided by cities, states, and some colleges and state employment agencies.  Some of these free training opportunities provide free bus passes for the students to get to the class locations!  AND, President Obama has poured money into the economy that directly targets these disadvantaged folks, even providing tax incentives and credits for families with members going full-time to school ($2,500 each student), so even the poor middle-class can take advantage!

So your broad statement about rich CEO’s walking all over the backs of poor people and workers to get that wealth – it’s bunk! It’s garbage!  And you don’t know enough about the economy to know what you are talking about.

You talk about Truth or Consequences – get your information straight….

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If your best friend was dying, what would you say?

I was reading a blog posting and someone asked readers what was the one thing that happened to them that changed their life.

One of the readers responded with the following: My best friend who, knowing he was dying and that death was imminent, said to me: “Whatever you have to do, do it now. Whatever you have to say, say it now. Don’t assume that life waits for you.”

So my questions to you are:

Who would you go to to follow this advice?

What would you forgive?

What would you say?

Why would you finally say it now?

What would change with your life if you “did say it now?”