Common Sense Comes to Town!

Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have. (Descartes)

In Praise of Wealth

Posted on | July 31, 2010 | No Comments

There lingers amongst a sizeable portion of the Canadian population (or more to the point, the French Canadian population) a leftover of suspiciousness in the face of wealth and success, especially openly displayed wealth. The recent case of the new Cité Collégiale’s president, Lise Bourgeois, is a splendid example of this small-town lowliness wagging sharper tongues.

The fact is that, from her overall salary of 225 000$ (which is not an exaggerated amount for a business leader) Mrs Bourgeois has kept aside a portion to pay herself a Porsch Panamera, a toy which costs about 2000$ per month. Instant scandal in the capital city! It would have been more reasonable for the president to go for a BMW or Lexus, something a bit less “in-your-face”.

Between you and me, why the heck should we care about Mrs Bourgeois’ means of transportation? No matter what she rents, her global salary is adjusted according to market conditions. And if the scarcity of capable managers for higher learning institutions allows her to command this kind of amount, well good for her. The most vulgar will claim that anybody could manage a university for much less, but the simple truth is that competent high level managers aren’t plentiful, the less so in the public sector.

This denial, of the scarcity of management capacities, also explains the pittance granted to the highest elected officials when compared to their actual responsibilities. Thus, Quebec’s Premier earns 183 000$ per annum to govern 7 million inhabitants. The president of TD Bank, which has 18 million customers, earned 10,5 million dollars last year.

If the private sector readily recognizes the importance of forking out the cash to obtain and retain competent and profitable leaders, it is unfortunate that mentalities do not allow the same kind of talent search in the private sector. But why not? Why not open our wallets and hire ourselves a Steve Jobs (or some equivalent manager) to take care of government? If he or she is efficient and can justify the amounts paid, my vote goes to that option any time.  

Leave Lise Bourgeois and her Porsche alone, then… Although honestly, a Tesla Roadster would have sent a wholly different signal…


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  • Photographie par Patrick Meunier

    Tous droits réservés, Patrick Meunier, 2010

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