The primary focus of last Tuesday’s video Q&A session was the increasing anger over CEOs’ skyrocketing compensation, and so many great questions came in that we could not get to all of them.
Among those questions was this one: Are we just jealous of CEOs and Wall Street executives for making lots of money?
It’s a great question, and my answer may provoke anger on both sides of this debate. In part, I think the answer is “yes.” Anyone thinking that at least most of those protesting CEOs making “too much money” are not influenced by their own financial needs is not being realistic.
One’s sense of equity and who “deserves” what is always affected by his or her condition and expectations. At the same time, ignoring the very real questions being raised by the protesters – questions about what we value in society and how we reward people for the work they do, is unwise. The premise that people at the top can keep getting richer while those at the bottom see their income shrink is a recipe for disaster, and we ignore that trend at all of our peril.
The Q&A moved on to cover Rick Perry and the controversy surrounding the name of his family’s hunting ranch. Is it really such a big deal? Who hasn’t had a moment in which they failed to combat racism in their midst? Does that make them racist? Does it matter if the sign with the offensive name was still up when Perry was there? Is where one stands on these questions a matter of sensitivity to racial issues or of where they stand on Rick Perry?
Finally, I questioned the real implications of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad not only comparing Israel’s security fence/wall to the Berlin Wall, but to predicting that it would fall the same way. In making that claim, he suggests that there will not be a two-state solution but a one-state solution.
What are the implications of Fayyad’s remarks for Middle East peace? Do they actually confirm the worst suspicions of the Israeli right? Do they make Israeli PM Netanyahu look more reasonable for insisting that the Palestinians affirm their acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state?