The low point in the federal response to Hurricane Katrina had to be on the Friday following the disaster. As many observers looked on in dismay, President Bush actually praised Michael Brown, who was then the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). As he toured the devastation, the president declared, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."
Actually, most Americans didn't think he was doing a "heck of a job." Why is it that our government and business leaders are often so forgiving of the failure of their fellow executives?
One need only look at America's boardrooms to see underperformance rewarded with sums that would make a sultan blush. Consider Blockbuster
Perhaps he received advice on negotiating his severance package from former Fannie Mae
Ultimately, America's CEOs appear to win when they win and win when they lose. My outrage meter spun out of control earlier this year when it was floated that Carly Fiorina, whose performance at Hewlett Packard
Despite the efforts of some shareholders, like our own Tom Gardner, to exert greater influence over the management of public companies, it is an uphill struggle for individual investors to bring about real change. And the institutional investors, many of whom get paid obscene amounts of money for underperforming the market, aren't very likely to start throwing stones at their CEO cousins any time soon.
Let me emphasize here that I do believe that successful CEOs should be richly rewarded. Jack Welch at General Electric
When I was growing up, many little boys dreamt of someday becoming a major league baseball player. Nowadays, youngsters across the land dream of eventually running a DVD rental shop into the ground. It pays a lot better, and you don't have to worry about hitting a curveball.
For more CEO foolishness (with a small 'f'):
John Reeves owns shares of Netflix. The Fool's disclosure policy hasn't failed anyone yet.