Time for a New Trope

Article excerpt

CNBC's "Street Signs" asked me to appear on their program commenting on a Slate.com article, "The CEO Real Estate Scam," in which the author, Michelle Leder, expressed outrage that some companies were offering their CEOs "loss protection" and "price protection" based on the value of their homes.

Anchor Erin Burnett, who is also CNBC's co-anchor of "Squawk on the Street," led off by playing to Leder's outrage that CEOs-who can afford it-are given a perk that the average person who is being hurt by falling house prices cannot also enjoy. Leder was indeed infuriated and said so several times. When my turn came I was asked the typical when-have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife question. "Don't you find it infuriating, etc."

I replied that while many perks are open to abuse, not all perquisites are created equal. When attracting a CEO from another company it often makes sense to offer packages that take care of various benefits he or she might otherwise be forced to forego. Indeed, house protection would be cheap as perks go. It hardly rises to the level of Dennis Kozlowski's toga parties or the notorious $6,000 shower curtains, not to mention the use of company jets, Knicks courtside season tickets or daily fresh cut flowers for his New York apartment bestowed upon Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, parent company of CNBC. …