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Thursday, April 26, 2007


by Joe Paddock

Having worked up and down
and round and about
our economic spectrum,

it’s come clear to me as any
shining mansion on the hill
that ability and all-around

worthiness has less than nothing
to do with the link we are on
along the economic food chain.

And I’ve long wondered if CEOs
are worth, not of course 500 times
what their average worker earns,

but twice. Twice what the average
man or woman earns for doing
what needs to be done, is a big bump.

Add to that doubling the buzz those
big egos get seeing their gleaming
photos, them looking wise on the covers

of Newsweek, Time and whatever other
slick rag with economic hiccups prints
pics of that glitzy Olympus where the

big-bucks boys gather in their grandeur
and have a go at being gods: Ed Whitacre
at AT&T, Hank McKinnell at Pfiizer,

Bob Nardelli at Home Depot, guys
who presided over loss, smiling
while slurping in tens of millions,

all aglow there on the peak, their pile
of green, and on top of that, add,
ah, the joy such hyper-controlling

personalities surely find in running
their very own corporate show, proving
their cajones by cutting benetifts,

gobbling pensions, pink-slipping workers
and making love to China. What a deal
for them to have all that and earn double

what their average worker earns. Worth
hundreds of times more? Madness!
And surely such absurd largess

will do damage to their immortal souls,
and as the great Greenspan has told us,
such silly “CEO pay and stock option

windfalls nurture infectious greed.” Yes,
and easily lead to corporate shenanigans
that can send a heavy feeder away

from the light of day. Heavens to Betsy,
boys and girls, everyone knows the one thing
all big-corp CEOs are bound to be good at

is milking their organizations and
the populations they serve into their own
bucket. We’ve all seen them, these

recent years, loaded with lucre, rats
leaping from emptied and leaking ships, with
somewhat more in hand than twice what

is held by those without life boats
left behind.

Joe Paddock is a poet, oral historian, and environmental writer. He has been a Regional Poet for Southwestern Minnesota, a poet-in-residence for Minnesota Public Radio at Worthington, and has taught in the Creative Writing Department of the University of Minnesota. His books of prose include Soil and Survival (Sierra Club Books) and Keeper of the Wild (Minnesota Historical Society Press). His books of poetry include Handful of Thunder (Anvil Press), Earth Tongues (Milkweed Editions), Boars’ Dance (Holy Cow! Press), and A Sort of Honey (Red Dragonfly Press). For his poetry he has received the Lakes and Prairies Award of Milkweed Editions and the Loft-McKnight Award of Distinction.