Monday, May 24, 2004

Who Are They to Say What's Excessive?

Richard Grasso, former head of the New York Stock Exchange, is suing the organization for being forced to resign. Sen. John Edwards called his pay package of $140 million in deferred compensation and retirement benefits “excessive,” according to the CNN website. Business leaders called his salary inappropriate for someone in his financial position of power, especially since it’s a non-profit organization.

As usual, critics are playing pretend in two ways. Grasso was head of the stock exchange for 36 years and the exchange isn’t exactly a typical (if there is such a thing) non-profit organization. They are not desperate for cash, as what most people imagine non-profits to be. The NYSE can most certainly afford to pay Grasso the sum and after three and a half decades, who’s to say that he doesn’t deserve it? Only those who work for the NYSE have the appropriate local knowledge to best ascertain his performance. No one else is in a position to criticize.

As for his position in power, I fail to understand how his large salary should affect his credibility. Now if he was investing that money in the stock market, that may be cause for concern or inquiry but as simply a salary, how does that translate into possible corruption? What’s important is what he does with it and, in that case, the size of the salary shouldn’t matter.

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