As I’m sure you know, President Obama recently instituted a salary cap of $500,000 per year for CEO’s of some companies that will be bailed out by taxpayers. To most of us, “only” half-a-million dollars a year doesn’t sound bad — despite real estate prices in Santa Monica. However, half a million a year is a lot less than these CEOs are used to getting, so they can’t be pleased. Some of them are bound to write letters explaining their outraged feelings to the president. Letters like this:
Dear President Obama,
It has come to my attention that you have decided to put a salary cap on some of us who will be receiving bailout money because of the current financial crisis. I applaud your effort to try to help the American economy, but I must object to this cap business.
To cut my salary — and the salary of others in my position — down to $5,000,000 is absurd. We need a salary commensurate with … wait a minute.
My assistant just told me that I misread the figure and the limit is not $5,000,000, but $500,000 — $500,000 a year? You must be joking.
$500,000 a year? Isn’t that about how much teachers and firefighters make? And what do they really contribute to society?
Something that people who are not in the financial world don’t understand is that those of us who have an impact on the economy, need to be happy in order to do our best work. What makes us happy? Things. Things like private jets, boats, offices with Picassos on the wall, and a very modest private island in the South Pacific — $500,000 a year won’t even pay the insurance for these things.
I have a lot of expenses that the general public doesn’t know about. I set my wife up in a cute little store that loses about $60,000 every month. I don’t just need to belong to one country club; I need to belong to a country club near each of my five homes.
Front row seats are not cheap for basketball games, the opera, and ultimate fighting. If I don’t sit in the front, I just don’t enjoy the experience. Once I sat in the third row for a playoff game. I was so bummed out that the next day my bank lost $200,000,000.
Just between us guys, do you have any idea how expensive a mistress is? There are gifts, rent for her apartment, and singing lessons. I also have a private detective watching her because I think she might be cheating on me, and he’s not cheap.
With all due respect, Mr. President, this plan, which would force CEOs to buy our suits off the rack, will be disastrous for our country. You talk about creating more jobs, but this will force many people out of work. With a salary of — it’s hard for me to even say it — only $500,000 a year — I won’t be able to pay my chauffeur, the crew on my boat, and the woman who creates my personal aftershave. Am I supposed to toss out on the street the guy who takes care of my koi pond, my two-year-old’s French tutor, and my chocolatier? God, I just love those confections.
I’m convinced that after you have read my letter, you will see the folly of your decision. Don’t feel bad. Almost everybody makes mistakes. And isn’t part of the “new politics” your being able to admit when you’ve been wrong? So, I thank you for your time.
If you’re ever in New York, Beverly Hills, Deer Valley, Martha’s Vineyard, or Liechtenstein, feel free to drop in on me.
James “Trey” Harrington, III
CEO Midwest Bank Trust and Mortgage
Well, I have to admit that Mr. Harrington does raise at least one good point: CEOs like him ran our economy into the ground when they had enormous salaries and perks. Just think how much worse they’ll do if they’re in a bad mood.
Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from “Sesame Street” to “Family Ties” to “Home Improvement” to “Frasier.” He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his Web site at lloydgarver.com and his podcasts on iTunes.