In the view of the perilously liberal syndicated columnist Mark Shields, nothing good ever comes from corporate America.
On PBS's "Inside Washington" Friday, Shields told his fellow panelists, "If one waited for all the great social improvements of this country to come from CEOs, we would still have child labor at 8 cents an hour working at mills and looms and lathes" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
MARK SHIELDS, PBS: But if one waited for all the great social improvements of this country to come from CEOs, we would still have child labor at 8 cents an hour working at mills and looms and lathes. So, you know, they have hardly been on the vanguard of social change.
CEOs have hardly been on the vanguard of social change? Really?
Just this year the world watched as citizens in Arab nations revolted against their tyrannical leaders aided by the social networks of Facebook and Twitter. The last time I looked, both companies had CEOs responsible for the creation of their product as well as the distribution.
The greatest inventions impacting the most "social change" in this nation have almost always come from the private sector.
As such, to make a statement on national television that CEOs have hardly been on the vanguard of social change is the height of stupidity, dishonesty, or both.
Not to be outdone, the Washington Post’s Colby King joined in on the CEO-bashing bandwagon moments later:
COLBY KING, WASHINGTON POST: The CEOs are essentially hired guns anyway. They don’t, most of them don’t own the companies that they run. They work for a board of directors. The board of directors have a fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders, and they will get rid of the CEO if the companies don’t make money, pure and simple.
In reality, most CEOs do own the organizations they manage for most companies aren't publicly traded and the CEO is typically one of the top shareholders if not the only one.
As for public companies, the CEO's managing those typically have most of their income tied to either profits or stock performance. This means there's a direct correlation between the financial fortunes of such companies and the CEOs that lead them.
This upsets union-loving liberals like King and Shields who think there's something inherently wrong with performance-based pay. They'd much rather everyone make the same wage regardless of output.
Just imagine the lack of positive social change in this country if they got their way.