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Some Useful Sacrilege on Sinful CEO Wages

May 07, 1991|DANIEL AKST

"There's a tremendous relationship," he says, "and it's negative."

All these options and bonuses produce CEO salaries so high that Crystal suggests that they be expressed with an exponent to save on zeros, or perhaps per share, or even in light years.

"These executives have an enlarged greed gland," he says. "They are the end result of a Darwinian selection from which everyone else has been knocked out of the game."

Crystal says Araskog made 600 times more than the average worker in 1990. The average big-company CEO made about 150 times the average worker.

"Plato thought that no one in a community should earn more than five times the pay of the lowest worker," Crystal writes, "and even J. P. Morgan and Peter Drucker felt that about 20 times was plenty. And consider that the ratio in Japan is around 17 times, that the ratio in Germany and France is about 23 times and that the ratio in the U.K. is around 33 times."

Crystal admits that he's motivated partly by a desire for expiation.

"If you have to use a biblical analogy, don't think of me as Judas," he says. "Think of me as Mary Magdalene in her second phase. I may have started my life as a hooker, but I'm going to finish it as a saint."

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