Monday, September 16, 2002

In the hands of a benevolent God
You probably heard about the chairman of the NY Fed's speech at ground zero last Wed., in which he attacked executive overcompensation:
It is important for those of us who have lives of great comfort and success that we recognize that the reasons for our good fortune and the reasons for the relative lack of success of the neighbors I have just described have very little to do with our own virtue. In this house of God, I should perhaps attribute it to the divinity, although such a God would be a bit too controlling for my taste. In another locale, I would suggest it is mainly good luck. A good set of genes, good health, being born to loving parents, the help of a loving friend, the support of a great teacher-any and all of these got us where we are. Yes, we deserve some credit. But we should remember that two most attractive virtues are realism and humility.

They deserve to be cast into hell; so that divine justice never stands in the way, it makes no objection against God's using his power at any moment to destroy them. Yea, on the contrary, justice calls aloud for an infinite punishment of their sins. Divine justice says of the tree that brings forth such grapes of Sodom, "Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?" Luke 13:7. The sword of divine justice is every moment brandished over their heads, and it is nothing but the hand of arbitrary mercy, and God's mere will, that holds it back.

Sorry, that second paragraph was actually Jonathan Edwards. Probably a bad time in history for poor Jack Welch to say:
In this particular deal, I sacrificed millions of dollars. Not that I am some generous sacrifice -- I'd prefer to have what I had. But it was an employment contract. I fulfilled my obligations. GE did fantastically. Increased market cap $250 billion over the time frame, became number one market cap in the world, most admired global company for five years in a row. I gave it all I had, created a lot of CEOs: a 3M CEO; a Home Depot CEO; a Honeywell CEO, Dave Cote; and GE got a CEO in Jeff Immelt that we're so proud of we could burst. So I did my job, and in the end I got the in-kind benefits, rather than the cash, of these things.
Particularly when so many people are being so visibly nickel-and-dimed in NYC.


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