A sincere question about CE pay

David Cunliffe is a courteous dude, so when he’s taking the Government to task for paying a guy $70k just to get the logo on his business cards changed, he’s very conscientious about making it clear that the guy in question, MoBIE CE David Smol, is a good dude and it’s not about him personally.

I have no pre-existing relationship with Mr Smol, and I almost certainly lack Cunliffe’s courtesy, so I’m just going to ask this, in all sincerity,:

What the fuck can David Smol possibly be doing to earn $589,999 per annum?

I mean, let’s assume he’s a hard-working 80 hours a week kind of guy, you’re still talking about $284 an hour or $8 for a two-minute potty break.

As Cunliffe points out, that’s 17 teachers’ worth of pay.  Assuming each teacher is in charge of 25-30 kids, David Smol is being paid the equivalent of teaching 468 children for a year.

It could also be 11 nurses, according to Cunliffe.  Let’s say every nurse either saves a life or helps bring a baby into the world just once a week.  Taking off 4 weeks’ leave, David Smol is being paid the equivalent of 572 lives saved / babies born, plus all the other good hard work nurses do in their daily jobs.

It’s equivalent to hiring one sex worker from an elite Wellington agency to fuck you 24 hours a day for 82 days straight.

Yes, my numbers are silly and probably woefully inaccurate (I’m sure I can hear nurses cackling at the notion of ever getting to take 4 weeks’ leave) but they serve to flesh out my point:  what the hell can a person be doing that’s worth $589,999 a year?

The usual defences of CE pay amount to “but they have a lot of experience” – I presume in some kind of secret military time-distortion facility which makes their “experience” more important than other people’s – or “but they have networks and relationship management skills” – i.e. we’re paying the old boys’ club to remain an old boys’ club – or some kind of “strategic leadership mumblemumble”.

What it always seems to boil down to – to me, as a raving lefty feminist hater of entrenched power systems – is that we have to pay people, and yes, predominantly older, whiter, maler people (though there are always exceptions), the big bucks to be leaders because otherwise they’ll feel unappreciated.

Don’t you wish that worked for your salary negotiations?

I honestly want to know.  What on Earth can David Smol – or anyone – really bring to the table that deserves that kind of pay?  Our own PM’s on a paltry $411k.  The median income (all sources) in NZ is around $29k.  Is David Smol – or any other state CE on the same kind of pay – worth six average people’s annual income more than the PM?

(And is the PM worth 14 average people in the first place?)



  1. peterlepaysan

    Director’s fees rely on corporate share value (in theory).. CEO’s are supposeed to increase share value (hah!).

    Not sure how that works in Public Service (not sure it works in private companies either).

    • QoT

      Yes, well “in theory” would be the key phrase there, and the question would be begged, so why don’t the lowly schmucks who actually build the widgets get the same benefits?