I recently stumbled upon a commentary from Thom Hartmann that speculated about why CEO's make so much money. Is it free market forces? Ron Paul doesn't think so. I think largely that they do it because they can. CEO's have a lot of control of who board members are these days and are in some ways less regulated than they used to be. So they do what it takes to increase their own salaries to absurd levels. It's tough to resist the temptation.
Hartmann offers another theory which may play a role in some cases. Perhaps CEO's have a feature that you lack. Namely, they are sociopaths. The corporate world is going to select for that which maximizes profits. Not all industries would see profits maximized via destruction. But some do.
Take Coca-Cola. It happens that those that attempt to unionize in Colombian Coca-Cola bottling plants tend to get shot and killed. Maybe the CEO is unaware. Maybe he just applies pressure to keep labor rates low to a bottling subsidiary and doesn't know how that is achieved. Paramilitaries working in conjunction with industry do what is necessary.
But on the other hand maybe the CEO is aware. And you can see how being a sociopath would be beneficial in terms of profits. Not caring about destroying the lives of others means you can prevent unionization, keep labor rates down, and maximize profits and stock prices.
I thought that was an interesting theory, though speculative. But I recently listened to a lecture on morality from Dr Andy Thomson. In that lecture he explains how moral tensions arise when a portion of our brains that evolved earlier comes in conflict with the portion of our brain that developed later. It's a pretty interesting lecture. Near the end a questioner asked if these days in our world we are selecting for what we might regard as psychopathy. Those that succeed in the corporate world are often uncaring towards others. They benefit monetarily from that behavior and hence are able to reproduce more successfully since potential mates prefer wealth.
Thomson's answer reinforced Harthmann's theory. Apparently a world leader on psychopathy is a guy named Robert Hare, and he has developed a test, known as the PCL-R test which, according to Thomson, is quite effective at identifying psychopaths. Thomson further claims that in one of Hare's book there are details about this test being applied to CEO's of Fortune 500 companies. Apparently the test questions were obscured within a larger questionnaire so the takers were unaware they were being tested for psychopathy. Thomson claims that in fact these CEO's scored higher on the psychopathy spectrum than the remainder of the population.
Whether that's all true or not I really don't know, but I thought it was interesting.