Okay, first a disclaimer: I am all Apple, all the time. I’m currently typing on my MacBook Pro; I will be talking later on my iPhone. Later still I will be listening to music from my iTunes account on my iPod. I am now the proud owner of an Apple TV gizmo and if they sold cars, I’d be driving an icar.
So $378 million for the CEO. What’s the big deal? A-Rod makes $250 million and he just plays for a baseball team (oh, that’s over ten years, you say?). Worse yet, 7 out of 10 times at bat he’s unsuccessful. And there are lunch bucket executives aplenty making… gulp… tens of millions or more. UnitedHealth Group CEO Stephen Hemsley took in a nice $102 million in 2011; Robert Iger of Walt Disney “only” made $53 million. Poor guy. So why fuss about Tim Cook? He should be on top of the heap.
First, is it really $378 million? Indeed it is. Not salary (which is a cool $900k), but mostly in the form of a package of restricted stock. He receives half of the stock in 2016; the other $188 million vests in 2021. What a wait, huh? But believe me, if he went over to the local branch of any bank and said, “I’d like a loan against my Apple compensation,” he could certainly borrow $378 million. More likely he could borrow a billion and buy the bank.
Yep, he’s made bank. The pursuit of bank. The oil that lubricates the capitalist system. I’m all in, but—and here it comes, from the protector of consumers and the 99%—we need to recalibrate.
No, not socialism. But we need a system where the CEO makes 100 times the lowest-paid employee, or maybe close to 1,000 times. But not 10,000 times. Let’s say the lowest-paid employee at Apple makes $38,700. Mr. Cook makes 10,000 times that amount in total compensation. It is too much to sustain. It creates the disparity of the robber baron era; we need to move on to a society that values all contributors.
My love for Apple products goes beyond Mr. Cook’s leadership in the boardroom. It involves the great designers, software engineers, and the guy in the warehouse shipping the product to my door. Don’t pay them all the same, but incentivize them all and save some for a rainy day.
Read more from attorney Steven Berk at his blog, The Corporate Observer, which focuses on current legal and consumer protection issues.