New Zealanders are so stoic and naive.
We seem to live in two separate universes.
This week we learned that, despite the recession, half of our country's business leaders have awarded themselves an average 5 per cent pay increase.
At the same time most of their employees got nothing and their real incomes continue drift downward.
These same leaders tell us, with a straight face, that they have to give themselves steady increases even when they underperform so their companies can attract management skills.
Yet the message to their employees is that they have to get nothing so the business can remain competitive.
New Zealanders are so stoic and naive. It's amazing that people put up with this nonsense.
Do we really think that the only way to get good leadership is by paying insane amounts of money to high fliers? Was it so necessary to pay Paul Reynolds $5 million to run Telecom? Given his company's performance, he shouldn't be paid anything.
Is any salaried employee worth more than the Prime Minister, who runs the entire country?
The required skill from a good CEO is leadership. The actual results, however, are achieved through the hard work of others. Just how does any CEO justify being paid 100 times more than the average wage they pay their employees?
They can't. The whole thing's a racket.
Paying bonuses as an incentive for performance makes some sense. But our captains of industry seem to get paid excessive amounts of money no matter what results are.
When there is a bonus system in place, it is rarely shared outside the senior management. When lower-level employees do have a bonus system, it's so small it's an insult.
I'm a bit prickly about this as I'm involved in negotiations with an Australian-owned retail chain that is expanding its stores in our country.
They enjoyed a 29 per cent increase in net profits last year and rewarded their chief executive with a $3 million package including a cool million-dollar bonus. Yet his New Zealand workforce hasn't had a pay rise for 2 years and he says he needs another year before he even considers a review.
Like other Australian-owned operations they send out regular newsletters telling their local staff they're all one big team and that the employees are their No 1 asset.
It's enough to make you puke. I'd hate to see how they looked after their second most important asset.
For some reason, workers and the rest of us fall for this nonsense. We used to pride ourselves on our egalitarian principles but we are increasingly becoming a nation of forelock-tuggers.
More and more of us accept our place in the ever-expanding struggling underclass even as we pretend we are middle class.
Aren't we getting a bit tired off being a nation of doormats for others' profits?
So I was delighted last Sunday that my pessimism was somewhat misplaced when more than 20,000 people took to the streets in protest at their distrust of the Government's announcement they want to open up national parks to mining.
In reality it's allowing overseas multinationals to gouge up our park lands, throw us a few coins in royalties, import skilled labour with a few short-term, low-level local jobs and transfer the huge profits back to their headquarters.
Despite the Government's bland assurances, I was pleased that New Zealanders aren't buying it. Saturday's march was the first real challenge to John Key. The turnout was huge and more importantly the marchers were highly motivated.
Key made his fortune assessing risk. He's smart and knows he can't ignore the threat to him.
Lucy Lawless summed it up well at the march when she said that two or three decades ago mass mobilisations happened because our class consciousness was so much higher than today. You go, Warrior Princess.
Maybe some of that fighting spirit may start spreading out to the people who didn't turn out last weekend.