Friday, 29 October 2010

50% fatter

Bart Becht, the highest paid FTSE 100 chief executive.

New figures out today revealed FTSE 100 director pay shot up by 55pc in the 12 months to June. In the FTSE 350, total boardroom pay climbed by 45pc on average, the figures by IDS found.

I know this is yesterday's news but the information has somehow swollen in my mind so it seems bigger today than it did yesterday, and is likely to be bigger still tomorrow. In a little while it is likely to be half as big again, which is precisely the case with those rises.

The man in the picture above is smiling which makes him look deceptively human, but make no mistake, he is in fact an angel who lives on an altogether different planet. I was originally going to say he was a rodent but realised in time that that was offensive. I would not wish to offend.

I wonder whether such angels are impervious to firing squads? It would be an easy experiment and if he really is an angel he would be perfectly safe.

He's not alone of course.

In the FTSE 350, total boardroom pay climbed by 45pc on average, the figures by IDS found.

Meanwhile, among the mortals:

The statistics came less than 24 hours after a survey by the same consultancy found 16pc of employers were still pushing through pay freezes, effectively passing on pay cuts to staff when inflation was taken into account.

And that's in The Daily Telegraph.

Maybe we should be grateful Mr Becht is still with us in blighty. Just think how terrible it would be if he were to leave these shores, along with all those other directors.

But then they are angels so one could always try the firing squad first.

Forgive the faint reek of loathing you may detect in this post. I don't do loathing well, but maybe it's just a matter of practice. Practice makes perfect. And he does look a little more rodent like every time I look at him.


Harry said...

And on top of that: "In 2007, it is likely that the top five hedge fund managers earned more than all five hundred S&P 500 CEOs combined."

Charlie said...

You seem to do loathing quite well. And it doesn't become you. The firing squad joke is an offensive one, no matter who you are trying to de-humanise. When socialism resorts to de-humanisation it becomes fascism.

George S said...

You seem to do loathing quite well.

Oh, that's fairly easy in the case of directors who take 50% pay rises while sacking low ranked workers. But I'll work on it. matter who you are trying to de-humanise

I think they have dehumanised themselves. How can that man gloat at taking home £92.6 million in total pay at a time like this? He can't be quite human can he? It is not what being human means to me, Charlie.

And quite frankly the firing squad seems quite appealing. Be very afraid. Poet feels violent. Auden wrote: 'I have no gun but I can spit.' That's the best I can do for for now.

Does the thought of Becht fill you with equanimity, Charlie? Do you think it worth a mild reproof? Perhaps it's just the way of the world. Personally, I think it is monstrous.

George S said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie said...

I don’t know much about Mr Becht but for his name and his salary as reported in your blog. Not really enough to judge him. Whoever gets to know that much about someone else?

Anyway, I googled his name. This is from 10 April 2010.

“Last week, it emerged that Bart Becht, the chief executive of cleaning products giant Reckitt Benckiser who last year pocketed £90m, transferred £110m of shares to a charitable trust which supports organisations such as Save the Children.”

George S said...

So the 50% rise is all right then. He transfers it to a charitable fund.

Perhaps the most obvious advantage of a charitable trust is its tax status. Any such trust is treated, for tax purposes, as a charity in and of itself. As a result, it is possible to secure significant tax exemptions. In the first instance, all donations made to the trust (that is, all assets transferred into it) will be eligible for full tax relief. This continues into any investment income that is earned by the trust.

If, for example, it is deemed beneficial for the trust to invest some of its assets in order to produce a greater return, no tax will be payable on that investment income. Similarly, although charitable trusts can also be constituted as companies, no corporation tax will apply. Further down the line, if the trust is eventually required to operate from its own office space, it will be similarly exempt from business rates.

The charitable fund supports organisations such as...

He took the 50% rise because he wanted to help children.

You're right. Who knows much about anyone else? Why don't you write a post here, Charlie, explaining why 50% rises, starting from several million a year, are the proper moral thing to do in a harsh economic climate when people are losing jobs and taking salary freezes. The pen is with you.

Send me 300-400 words, more if you like. I won't stint the space.

Charlie said...

First, I haven’t really said anything on the moral rights or wrongs of such levels of pay. There’s a lot of ground between me advocating such things are right - or moral as you say - and the firing squad. I didn't start out wishing to defend it, just to point out the dangers of the rhetoric you were using.

Second, the text you quote from ‘the advantages of charitable trusts’ is just a description of the tax advantages that apply to charities. It is not a summary, as I’m guessing you think it is, of the tax advantages that reflect back on the donor. So these advantages apply to all charities: the RSPB, CAFOD, Save the Children ... whoever. Donations to them get tax relief ie. the trust can claim back the income tax already paid by the donor, the trust doesn’t pay tax on investments, doesn’t pay corporation tax, business rates etc.

There is one tax advantage that reflects back on the donor: he or she gets back from HMRC the difference between the basic rate of tax and the higher rate of tax: if the donation is £100, the charity will claim an extra £22 and the donor will get a rebate of £18.

But the donor still has to give away the £100. They haven’t magnified their wealth, or even got out of paying tax or any of the other urban myths that do the rounds.

George S said...

Well, you clearly think better of him than I do, Charlie. Come and defend him.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

"...he is in fact an angel who lives on an altogether different planet."

I would suggest that he is not from another planet, he would be an E.T. then. Angels are of this planet, just on a different plane.

Your proposal to put him against the wall is not that simple, actually. Top executives usually invest a good part of their income into physical training. I goes with their belief in richly deserved luxurious retirement that needs then being in top shape.

This angel will easily outrun a volunteer posse, so some guile should be exercised when catching the critter.

The Plump said...

Top executives usually invest a good part of their income into physical training.

I prefer the 19th Century, not solely because I am an historian. Then the plutocrats grew fat. It made them much easier targets.

witwoud said...

"I don't do loathing well, but maybe it's just a matter of practice."

Two minutes a day should do the trick. Goldstein's ... sorry, Becht's face could morph into a rat while you hurl abuse at it: as you say, he's practically a rodent anyway. And after that, the firing squad.

George S said...

Oh no witwoud. Bechstein is one of my kind, not yours.

George S said...

That should of course be Goldstein, but what the hell, we're all the same, witwoud.

Charlie said...

"he's practically a rodent anyway. And after that, the firing squad"

In the Nazi propoganda film The Eternal Jew, produced under the supervision of Joseph Goebbels, the Jews of Poland are portrayed as less than human rodents who control world commerce. I’m sure firing squads were involved somewhere in the history that followed. Just an observation.

George S said...

You are quoting witwoud there, Charlie. The idea of people ratting on each other, being 'dirty rats' as James Cagney had it, behaving viciously is very old. In anger - and I was, and continue to be, very angry with people who award themselves 50% pay rises on top of already gross salaries, nor do I see why I should not be angry - I really felt and do feel there can be little humanity in such people. You would want to argue that there is?

You want to tar me with fascism and anti-Semitism? I guess so. As I say to witwoud above, you are talking to a Jew by birth, furthermore one whose family - more than half of it - was destroyed by fascism. It's not theory and films to me.

You want to pick me up on language and imagery because that seems to you more important than the scandal of the obscenely wealthy wanting to make themselves half as rich again? Go ahead.

I am not sure whether you think I should not be angry because there is nothing to be angry about; that I should not be angry because this is just the way of the world; that I should not be angry because some, for all I know or care, of those with whom I am angry, may be Jewish; that I feel that such behaviour is inhuman, or subhuman and so comparable to something less than human.

You haven't said. You continue with insinuations of anti-Semitism. Why do you imagine the directors with big bonuses are Jewish? I don't. It doesn't occur to me to imagine that they would be so. It seems to occur to you. Why?

If you want to carry on thinking of me as an anti-Semite fascist then go ahead and take the thought with you elsewhere. You thought in your first comment that I did loathing quite well. Fine, don't dirty your hands with loathers.

Charlie said...

George, please. I haven't said that you are anti-Semitic. Or that these directors are Jewish. I haven’t implied those things either. That is ridiculous: I inferred from the CV on your site and from what you said about Goldstein above that you might be Jewish (by birth as you have clarified) so it would have been absurd for me to suggest anti-Semitism. I’m sorry to have upset you.

All I am trying to say is that the rhetoric of de-humanising people and comparing them to rodents is dangerous, not matter who you are talking about. As the rhetoric was chorused in the comments by others it kind of made that point and I wanted to underline as much. It is your language - in that post about Becht, not the rest of the time obviously - that I am criticising, not your anger. Just the language. Anger is fine. Criticism of these enormous salaries is fine. Just not the rodent, firing-squad thing. And I am not defending the enormous salaries either.

Anyway, I don’t want to cause offence. I have banged on about my point long enough and hope I have cleared up any ambiguity of intent in what I have just said above.