The opinion page at WSJ was always a steaming heap of crap, but it looks like under Murdoch the rest of the - once very respectable - paper is moving fast to close the gap. Here's the recent "gem": http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123396915233059229.html.
It starts with a tearful personal story of a former investment banker.
"I was a 35-year-old, nonpartner investment banker then and was horrified to learn that my annual take-home pay would be limited to my small salary, which accounted for about a quarter of my previous year's income. Fortunately the partners decided to pay a small bonus out of their capital that year to help employees like me get by. The next year was no better. Several colleagues with good prospects left the firm and the industry for good. We learned that strong pay-for-performance compensation incentives could cut both ways."
Which actually begs an outright question - how much was this "small salary" anyway? What does it take for an investment banker to "get by"? $200k? $300k? $1m?
This idiotic idea that once you start paying less, the smart people will either leave or automatically become dumber was somehow sold to our populace, but it is belied by an every day experience.
When a person comes to a job interview and his/her answer to the question "why are you in this industry" is "because it pays a lot", the interview ends right there, right? How many companies did you see where this would not be true?
Studies upon studies show that there is NO direct correlation between job performance and the salary. There is a lot of correlation between overall level of happiness, and a dollar spent on benefits achieves far more towards that end than a dollar spent on salary.
Google is an ideal case in point. It employs some of the top engineers, but it pays slightly below the industry average. Almost everyone who works at Google could get more money elsewhere. The same is true for Microsoft.
When I interviewed at Google, I had a competing offer from Wall Street. Between the much higher cash and bonus, it was twice as much as what I'd be making at Google - and 50% more than what I was making at Microsoft. I chose Google, because while the salary was important, job satisfaction was even more so.
When I went back to Microsoft, I could have gone to Wall Street instead, and, again, get more money. I am sure that my original offer was still standing. But I went back to Microsoft, not to Wall Street.
Now, to hell with us mortals. Here's what correlates best with the CEO salary, and it's not the company performance. It's the golf scores: http://www.cerge.cuni.cz/pdf/events/papers/090112_t.pdf.