UW pay issue similar to big business

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Sue Gillespie's letter, Jan. 17, about Mr. Emmert's salary as president of the university of Washington is only one of many to decry his behavior. Sadly, few of the letter writers analyze the problem more deeply or offer solutions.

Mr Emmert is a public employee who was chosen by a Board of Regents appointed by the government of Washington. Nobody points out that the government, the fees given to the Board of Regents and Mr. Emmert are all provided by the taxpayers of Washington.

No one points out that these taxpayers have absolutely no say in the actions of government except the spurious one of being able to vote out elected officials, and have no say at all in who is chosen as appointed officials. Thus the taxpayers have no way to demand any accountability on any of those whose salaries we pay.

Note the similarity to big business.

The senior executives of a company such as Boeing are appointed or approved by a board of directors that also appoints its own members. The president, CEO and chairman are compensated by recommendation of a committee of that board that also recommends the compensation of the board members. These individuals and groups are all paid from the income of the company, which is ostensibly owned by the shareholders.

However, the vast number of shareholders and the rules governing the various types of shares held effectively prevent the shareholders from exercising any influence over the process noted above. Again, there is no real way to demand any accountability.

Notice the similarity between big government and big business.

Until we change this situation we will not be able to demand that big government behave responsibly any more than we are able to demand that big business behave responsibly.

Dick Swenson
Walla Walla

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