These levels are ludicrous. I could accept maybe Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and a handful of others getting these types of pay packages but those who you might think deserve such high pay don't receive such large pay.
The cumulative pay of the top 10 highest paid CEOs in the past 15 years totaled $11.7 billion.
Some might try to argue that these CEO's are being paid this due to the free hand of the market (supply and demand). I find it crazy for people to actually believe this. These pay rates are being made by board of directors who seem to be more interested in helping out the "Brooks Brother Bureaucrats" that they play golf with. Many of these companies are paying large percentages of what would otherwise be the companies total profit to their Brooks Brother Buddies who then support them (through high paid board seats, sitting on boards of their companies and approving similar exorbinant pay etc.).
I would love to see a report showing the executive pay of these overpaid CEO's compared to the net profit of the companies (showing what percentage of the profits are being paid to these individuals compared to the stock holders and other workers). At some point I will do this myself if someone else doesn't. Obviously unjustified practices suffer when those practices are publicized.
And I believe the more publicity of exorbinant packages the better. In my opinion, this harmful practice is due to a few people taking the profits owed to other workers and shareholders and giving it to their pals. You can certainly see example after example where these payments don't seem possible to justify as a wise use of companies money. However, this change will not be easy, the Brooks Brother Bureaucrats have an incentive to continue the current system where they can enrich themselves by enriching their pals.
My previous comment on Dan Gilmor's blog post (Mar 2005) on this topic: