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How Ethics Should Help Shape Execs’ Pay

Patricia Harned | January 9, 2007

Movie director Steven Spielberg earned $332 million from June 2005 to June 2006; professional golfer Tiger Woods earned $90 million, and actor Johnny Depp earned $29 million. In the business world, Yahoo’s chief executive officer, Terry Semel, received $230 million in total compensation while Berkshire Hathaway boss Warren Buffett received $100,000. Michael Kaiser, president of the nonprofit Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts made just over $1 million in 2005 while the average compensation for other nonprofit executives was $92,411.

Teaching salaries, on the other hand, begin at $42,400 in Fairfax County, Va., and only $25,000 in less populated states. On average, federal air marshals have a starting salary of $36,400 and park rangers start at $20,908.

With such wide variations in salary and earnings and widespread acceptance of high pay for actors and athletes, why has the topic of excessive executive compensation become the subject of...

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