The President and members of Congress are making a lot of noise - some might call it a bit on the side of demagoguery - about regulating corporate executive salaries, eliminating corporate bonuses and scrapping the use of private planes by all corporate executives.
Now, clearly some industries need, deserve and have earned this level of regulation. The key word in this sentence is some. The banking and financial industry. The auto industry. The private insurance industry (AIG, et al). Interestingly, two of those three (banking, insurance) were supposed to already be regulated by the government so that some of the disastrous things that happened wouldn’t have happened.
Yet, many in Congress like to paint all of industry with a broad brush. Well, Mr. President and those in the majority in Congress, not all corporations and industries are alike. The large majority of companies and industries play by the rules, are dutiful to their shareholders and employees, and act responsibly in the marketplace.
Our industry is one of the good players - make that great players. We have some of the greatest companies and brands in the world - The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Nestle Waters. These competitors achieved their success the right way, with strong corporate leadership. And our industry is among the majority of industries on the "responsible player" side of the ledger.
So yes, it's a bit bothersome when broad brushes get painted in an effort to "look good" rather than focus on fixing the real problem and dealing with the specific problem players.
It's also a bit, oh, let's say "ironic" or "curious" that the same public officials who rail against the practices of some corporations take part of those practices themselves.
Members of Congress gave their staff record-level bonuses last year - paid with taxpayer money. The bonuses were paid during a recession that their constituents are struggling through and during the same time these economic problems occurred under their watch.
Members of Congress use private planes for travel, at taxpayer expense, even though they want greater scrutiny of all executive use of these planes (not just the auto execs who flew in them to ask for a bailout.)
And the same leaders in Congress who allowed for bonuses to AIG executives are now leading the call for regulating executive pay for all industries - even the responsible performers.
We suggest Congress catch its breath. Focus on the problem and the bad players. Leave the responsible companies and industries alone. This is America. Let the marketplace work and deal with the irresponsible players as needed.
And before you act, you might want to make sure you're prepared to live up to whatever standards you set for the rest of America.