November 26th, 2008
04:04 PM ET

Say there, CEO, can I catch a ride home?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/26/art.jet.jpg]
Fay Vincent
The Wall Street Journal

There is something about a corporate jet that just enrages most politicians, and for that matter most citizens.

Last week the embattled automobile-company executives admitted they flew in their corporate jets to Washington to beg for government bailouts. The politicians excoriated them and ridiculed the lack of frugality their method of transportation demonstrated. It was all great fun to some. But the scene seemed to me to be the theater of the absurd. It combined stupidity with hypocrisy, and the result was not pretty.

In my early days I worked for the Securities and Exchange Commission where for a brief time I was the ranking staffperson handling the subject of "perks." Reporting companies have to disclose the amount and extent of so-called perks that are provided to executives. Thus the use of corporate facilities, including the corporate jet, for personal purposes results in not only disclosure in the company proxy statement but taxable income to the executive.

In that position I learned what red meat company jets are to the public. Most of us seem to hate the idea that our corporate executives are able to fly without the normal burdens of lines, delays and bureaucratic hassles.

We resent the whole business and our politicians know that so they pile on. Corporations are so intimidated that no corporate jet carries any form of public identification. It is impossible to tell from looking at these planes who owns them. The usual justification for corporate jets is the convenience and more efficient use of executive time. Interestingly, however, Warren Buffett named his jet "The Indefensible."


Filed under: Economy • Fay Vincent • Raw Politics
soundoff (No Responses)

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.