On Monday, The New York Times published “A New Way to Rein In Fat Cats,” an op-ed advocating an action so obviously foolish with such frivolous arguments that it is extraordinary that the paper of record thought it fit to print. Sadly, it may well be a harbinger of the direction of progressivism today.
In “Fat Cats,” Douglas Smith argues that the President should issue an executive order governing the ratio of compensation paid to the highest-paid executive relative to the lowest-paid employee in companies that contract with the federal government. According to Mr. Smith’s calculations, the ratio should not exceed the ratio of the President’s salary to the annual income of an employee earning the minimum wage.
Smith’s comparison of the President’s salary to those of highly paid executives is simply fatuous. Any President can enjoy an enormous income stream for years after holding the highest office of the land by virtue of having held that office. Look at Bill Clinton. Moreover, the President’s current annual salary – $400,000 – does not count perquisites of the office, such as residence in the White House and the use of Air Force One. These benefits dwarf those of any company’s chief executive. Most importantly, the President enjoys enormous non-monetary benefits that are not available in other jobs—the chance to move the nation toward one’s political ideals for human welfare and earn a place in American history, to name just a few. Certainly I would be delighted to be President for a twentieth of the salary currently paid, and I am sure that is true of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of other people.
His leading argument for his proposal is that “it is our money after all.”