Politics: It's facepalm time
There can be room for genuine disagreement in politics. I can see how some might want a windfall profits tax on oil and food companies, even though I think the idea is kind of ridiculous (more palatable for me is the reduction of subsidies for these industries).
Today's Senate hearing just got plain silly, though:
[Senator Leahy] asked Simon what his total compensation was at Exxon, a company that made $40 billion last year. Simon replied it was $12.5 million annually.
Two other executives, John Lowe, executive vice president of ConocoPhillips Co., said he didn’t recall his total compensations as did Peter Robertson, vice chairman of Chevron Corp. John Hofmeister, president of Shell Oil Co., said his was “about $2.2 million” but was not among the top five salaries at his company’s international parent. Robert Malone, chairman of BP America Inc., put his compensation at “in excess of $2 million.”...
...Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill, accused the corporate executives of ignoring the plight of people suffering because of high energy prices. “Where is your corporate conscience?” he asked them.
“The issue is simple,” said Leahy. “People we represent are hurting, the companies you represent are profiting.”
I'm not sure how a CEO's compensation is supposed to figure in this mess. First of all, a CEO's job is to make a company profitable. A $2 million payday might sound exorbitant, but skillful management can make shareholders' interests increase many times. Second, most big corporations compensate their executives well, not just evil oil companies. Third, most of the senators grilling these execs aren't exactly paupers - why don't THEY donate to help people, instead of forcing others to do their dirty work? Fourth, CEOs may actually be sued by their shareholders if they don't work to maximize profits (Henry Ford ran afoul of this principle).