Those reporters have such nerve! Last month, a BBC reporter in London asked Jeff Fairburn, the CEO of Britain’s largest homebuilder and the nation’s highest-paid corporate chief exec, about the $98-million “performance” bonus the 52-year-old had pocketed earlier this year. A peeved Fairburn called the reporter’s question “really unfortunate” and abruptly walked out of the TV interview.
Last week, the UK homebuilder Persimmon abruptly fired Fairburn, citing the public outrage over his windfall. Among the reasons for that outrage: the tax pounds that ordinary Brits contributed towards Fairburn’s record bonus. Persimmon’s share price — and the size of Fairburn’s bonus — only started soaring after the government put in place a “help-to-buy” subsidy for homebuyers. About half the homes Persimmon sells take advantage of this subsidy. Lawmakers intended the subsidy, says Labour MP Rachel Reeves, to aid homeowners, “not reward executives with multi-million-pound payouts.”
Entitlement, entitlement. These pampered, greedy CEOs cannot understand why taxpayers shouldn’t subsidise their exclusive lifestyles. After all they have worked for it, haven’t they? Actually, for what it’s worth, my personal experience of dealing with CEOs (I worked for the Confederation of British Industry at one point, and had to attend numerous meetings with the bosses of the largest British companies of the time). I concluded that they were company politicians first and smart businessmen second. The bigger the company the more they were politicos, even presentable actors. Disillusioning. I have remained hostile to these huge incomes ever since.