Photo by Chris Leipelt on Unsplash
This post is a little petty, a bit of a whinge, and yet necessary.
There should be some advantages to high office. Typically the benefit is not stellar remuneration. For example, the Prime Minister of Australia earns A$550,000. Whilst this amount is considerably more than the average punter, the top ten CEOs in Australia all earnt over A$10 million in 2019.
If you want to make millions don’t try for the top political jobs. You won’t starve but you won’t be buying a yacht anytime soon. You will need to borrow one from your business mates.
The head of the Reserve Bank of Australia, technically a bureaucrat given that the government pays his salary, Dr Philip Lowe earned just over A$1 million in 2019 and was responsible for managing a $182 billion balance sheet. The highest-paid pure bureaucrat was the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary with a total remuneration of $936,442.
Alright, so the more significant monies go to the private sector and the help.
Now I am not sure this is even remotely sensible for two reasons.
The first is that how are the best people for the job going to apply if they can get an order of magnitude better money elsewhere. Politicians are underpaid. Never thought you would hear that one. Only the current crop is overpaid for their capabilities but if we are to attract the best to do the toughest jobs, we need some pay parity to make the remuneration for messing about in parliament worthwhile.
The second reason is that CEO salaries are way too high. The way to achieve parity is to get a grip on the private sector’s excesses. Sure a reward for responsibility is necessary and they also want to compete for the best minds but really, $10 million. That is just taking the piss.
But wait, I have missed something.
There are perks to high office.
Here is one taken up with extraordinary enthusiasm by the recent POTUS.
Meantime the CEOs are circling their wagons.
The biggest Australian telco, Telstra CEO decided to blame the kids. Back in 2019 he was quoted as saying “Young kids are earning $5m playing Fortnite but when a business executive devotes a huge portion of their life … that it’s somehow morally wrong they get rewarded for it.”
Wait a minute.
A youngster with millions of online followers who love everything their hero does can earn a hefty sum. This is a simple supply-demand function that the CEO should understand. Just that same way that top-level professional soccer players with massive followings for themselves and their clubs can command crazy salaries, the CEO can get one too.
The point is the balance has gone. High public office should be rewarded by more than a medal for service and the CEOs should be paid on performance, not by their mates on the board.
And then there is this snippet from the Guardian on how Australia’s billionaires became 50% richer during pandemic
Australian billionaire, Solomon Lew, pocketed $24.25m in dividends after his retail empire, Premier Investments, received almost $70m in wage subsidies during the coronavirus crisis.
What bullshit is this.
If 50% richer during a global crisis that put workers into lockdown in their homes doesn’t raise your hackles, then paying out big dividends to shareholders with one hand whilst holding out the other for a subsidy surely will.
It makes the abuses of power by Trump look benign.