The Big Board's Bad Behavior

This whole New York Stock Exchange (search) thing is a mess. It's still hard to figure out how the darn place works, or even what it is. I mean, it’s a private institution, but it regulates too. It's almost too much for even this over-sized head to absorb.

There's a lot I don't know about the NYSE. But this much I do know: It's phony.

It preached discipline and transparency to the world and it didn't practice a word of it. It was like one of those revivalist preachers caught at a strip bar. Or Richard Simmons caught wolfing down a double-dip sundae at Dairy Queen. Or me attending an ACLU rally. It just doesn't go -- the words don't match the actions.

Now if you don't preach, don't worry. But you Big Board guys do preach, so I say do worry. Me? I could be caught emptying each and every dessert tray on a Bob's Buffet line and no one would bat an eyelash.

All I'm saying to the big board is act like a big board. If you're going to lecture companies about ethical behavior, be ethical yourself, actually be doubly ethical. Do things you don't have to do.

No, you don't have to say what all your executives make and how you arrive at what they make. But since you make a big stink about compensation at other shops, make a big stink of it at your own!

Let me be clear. There's nothing wrong with people making money, even a lot of money. There's everything wrong with an institution caught kicking and screaming, just to drag out the simplest facts behind that money.

They say Jack La Lanne was so sworn to fitness, he lifted weights everywhere he went. Robert Atkins was so obsessed with his low-carb diet, that he never dared order dessert. They practiced what they preached.

That's why you'll never hear me say, watch your pastries. And why you should never hear the Big Board say, watch your pay.

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