How would you like to be paid 10 times your current salary? That would be pretty sweet, right? You could pay off the mortgage, top up the kids' university fund, put away for retirement, replace the car with the funny engine noise with a new model.
Now, how would you like to be paid 174 times your salary?
Well, that's how much Canadian CEOs are paid compared to the average worker wage.
So I recommend a coup d'Ã©tat in your current workplace. Put on a sharp suit, start saying "disintermediate" and "revenue growth" and "optimization" as often as possible.
Carry a coffee cup, poke your head into everyone else's cubicle and ask them to work overtime.
Re-write the org chart with MS Paint and make yourself a VP of something.
Then one day, change the nameplate on the boss's door and proclaim that your beneficent rule has begun.
This may seem ridiculous, but it's not as painfully silly as the ever-widening wage gap. Remember, in Canada we're doing relatively well.
In the U.S., the wage of CEO to worker pay is 325 to one.
This baffles me. Wages are supposed to be linked, in some way, to skill and job performance and education. Generally, we also have this idea that everyone who works full time deserves a living wage.
So if you're slinging fries or mopping floors 40 hours a week, you should have enough to pay rent, feed yourself, put gas in the car and keep the kids in mittens.
We acknowledge that a brain surgeon, say, might deserve more pay. Because the skill required to learn which parts of the brain you can safely snip through represents a greater commitment than the training for the deep fryer.
Brain surgeons do get paid well. But they don't get paid 174 times what nurses or care aides get.
Maybe that's a bad example. CEOs are allegedly paid so much because they are uniquely skilled individuals, a tiny talent pool of geniuses.
Well, there are industries where tiny talent pools of uniquely skilled individuals command large salaries. Look at Sidney Crosby.
No, wait, bad example again! Crosby gets paid $9 million, bumping up against the top of the salary cap. But his lowestpaid fellow NHLer makes $525,000 a year. Crosby only gets 17 times more.
Mayors have to oversee the operations and future planning of large organizations.
In Langley Township, including expenses, the mayor makes a hair over $100,000. Councillors, who have similar workloads, get around $37,000 to the mid-$40,000 range, depending on expenses. That's with 850 employees and 100,000 citizens.
That comparison is better. We expect our politicians to have special expertise, to be smarter than average. But we know that won't always be the case.
That's why we have ways to throw the bums out.
But with CEOs, there are far fewer checks and balances. Shareholders can, technically, force a turnover at the top. But as long as they get some profit or increased share value, they'll be quiet.
So the other constituency, the employees, are the ones who are squeezed.
CEOs are not special. Perhaps they are more skilled at certain tasks, but not 174 times as skilled as you or I. We need tools to level things out, for workers as well as for shareholders, to keep the bosses in line.
Until we get economic democracy, the gap is just going to get wider.
Matthew Claxton is a reporter with the Langley Advance.