FROM THE BOQ: BUSINESS, POLITICS AND ETHICS #34

Another question from Gregory Stock’s book is this:

The President of the United States earns about $250,000 a year while the president of Ford earns some $2,000,000.  Do you believe these salaries are what they should be?

Because this book was published in 1991, these figures are somewhat outdated.

I did a little bit of Google searching to see what they are now.

According to one source, the U.S. President’s annual income has been $400,000 a year since 2001.

According to another source, the current president of Ford earns about $1,500,000 a year now because of the the last recession.

But don’t quote me on this–either figure could easily be incorrect.  (When searching the Internet for information, it is very important to compare sources as much as possible–don’t rely on just one website.)

Still, the actual amounts these two people earn are really not the subject of this question.

What Dr. Stock is really asking is this:

Should the President of the United States earn one-eighth the amount that the president of a U.S. corporation earns (or should the president of a U.S. corporation earn eight times as much as the President of the United States earns)?

Ideally, no.

Ideally, the President of the United States should earn far more, and the president of Ford (or any other U.S. corporation) should earn far less.

But idealism must always be balanced with realism.

While the job of a corporation’s president must be a lucrative one, the job of a country’s president must not be. 

The President of the United States is arguably the most powerful person on earth.  And this power is the main incentive for the President to do a good job. 

Yet look how dangerous this power, alone, is.  Think of all the U.S. Presidents, Democratic and Republican, who have abused this power over generations.

In fact, in my opinion, the last U.S. President not to abuse his power was Gerald Ford.  Every U.S. President since Jimmy Carter–including Barack Obama–has abused his power. 

Yet I digress.  While the main incentive for the president of a corporation to do a good job is money, the main incentive for the president of a country to do a good job is power.

So the annual earnings of a U.S. president should remain the same (adjusted to inflation of course).  Keep in mind also that the President of the United States gets free room and board, free healthcare (the best available), and many other perks the president of Ford (or any other U.S. corporation) does not get.

We should be far more concerned about what our senators and representatives in the U.S. Congress–both Democratic and Republican–earn.  For they have the power to actually raise their own salaries–and they continue to do so!  Furthermore, unlike the President, they have no term limits!

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