Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Over paid, Over here and Over us.

Over paid, Over here and Over us.

The Sindo, a paper that champions all that is vacuous, petty, inward looking and elitist in southern society, is not a paper I have much time for. And while they continue to have mostly insufferable journos sometimes, just sometimes, they end up putting together an article that highlights something of genuine interest. (Bear with me! I know thats a big claim).

Their article, (I wont link to it on principle) is a review of the pay of the semi-state bodies CEOs and also of the performance of the same.

Dublin Airport Authority:
Its CEO got €638,000 last year from the DAA. Usefully the article compares that salary with the British Airport equivalent which is about 5 times bigger than the DAA. Yet they only pay about 15% more for that role. The manager of the huge Schipol airport earned only about 78K more than the Dublin Airport CEO even though its twice the size. But the Dublin CEO must be worth it because while doing that job he also works as a non-executive director with Allied Irish Banks. Cut back on your hours a chara and give someone else a chance at a job. (As an aside wouldn’t it be a nice policy to bar retiring politicians from taking directorships for a period. I personally would not like to see Mary Harney retire and go straight onto a Health company’s board. Does such a restriction already exist?)

Dublin Port Authority:
Their most famous employee used be Bertie’s good friend Joe Burke. Their CEO Mr. Connellan got €299,000 in 2008. Port of London which handles twice the tonnage pays their lad €203,000. How do you save 50K here. Well according to the rules of the market you sack Mr. Connellan and offer the lad from London 249K. That’s 50,000 saved and you would have a much more experienced candidate in the position. But hey clearly this has nothing to do with the market so even if you are a gung ho free market maniac then this situation will stick in your craw.

RTE: Cathal Goan gets a cool €380k a year. The BBC Boss gets 2.5 times that to run 8 tv channels, 10 “national” radio stations, 20 local stations with revenue of about €5.2 Billion in an outfit bigger. Cathal Goan might not like to hear it but even by the standards of our neighbours he is overpaid. Can anyone tell me with a serious face that we couldn’t drop 100k off that salary can get someone as good or as bad? What about Pat Kenny?

3 clear examples and if you look at their wages from a left perspective then they are crassly wasteful and too high; but even if you are all about the free market then you cannot consistently argue for such high wages so clearly out of wack with the market. There is no basis to it! When people in the Sunday Independent start to argue the same point then its fairly obvious that there is a sentiment in the state for change. Although an outfit like the Sindo would be more interested in managing any change so as to limit any progress as much as possible. Their agenda is not the same as the Irish peoples.

It was recently commented that any party that could credibly argue a set of policies that gave voice to that demand for change would make hay at the next election. I agree with that. There is a hunger for change out there but will that anger get meaningfully channelled or will media outlets like the Sindo help fritter it away. How does a party like SF argue for meaningful change in this state when conservative media outlets begin to push the same message but with the intention of thwarting meaningful change and only delivering the bare minimum. As desire for change grows larger and larger the constant repositioning of rightist and centrist parties undercuts the left effectively ensuring that the anticipated revolution of groups like the SP are always due next year and never this year. Basically becoming wolves in left wings clothes.

To my mind overcoming this is one hell of a challenge for any progressive party.

The article also highlighted the interesting phenomenon of Bord Gais, ESB, Coillte et al all trying to get into the renewables sector. 4 state bodies all competing with each other in the one area , all hoping to undercut another arm of the state. I can see Fine Gael making hay with that when it comes to selling off semi-states in a fire sale. Rather than sell them it would be better to have a clearer vision of how these companies deliver for the state. Cutting them half-loose to fight it out with each other is little good. But then Fine Gael, same as Fianna Fail think the idea of key developmental components of our economy are much better off being owned by private, non--national, investors. Tweedledum is dead. All hail Tweedledee.

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