It is possible to make good arguments that CEOs are overpaid. However, it is also possible to make really, really bad arguments. Sadly, I have seen more of the latter than the former. The bad arguments have something in common - they rely on the Grandfather Fallacy, a term I picked up from Steven Landsburg back at my days in Rochester.
In the last few days of debating this issue, none of the defenders of these corporate riches has been able to answer these two questions I offer: (1) What have CEOs done in the last 30 years to warrant an eight-fold increase in compensation (adjusted for inflation)
Even if we assume nothing relevant has changed since 1981, Moore's argument implicitly assumes that we had the compensation formula correct in 1981. But why would we assume that? Perhaps CEOs are being paid the 'correct' amount today and we were wrong in 1981. There is no reason to believe that we hit the correct balance at any one point in time and deviations from that are unwarranted.
This has nothing to do with the grandfather fallacy, but while I am on the subject, here is Moore's second question:
(2) What did they do in 2010 to deserve a 27% raise when everyone else got 1%?
The 100 people on the CCPA's list did not receive a 27% raise in the traditional sense of the term. The CEOs and quasi-CEOs on the list received a fair chunk of their pay in stock options. Since the TSX had an excellent year in 2010, the value of these options rose, which is reflected in the numbers. Markets had a poor year in 2009, the value of stock options fell and there was a 9% reduction in compensation for the top 100 according to the CCPA's own figures. (Here's a fun game: Try to find a reference to that 9% reduction anywhere. I'll wait for you.)
The debate about whether or not CEOs and quasi-CEOs should receive stock options is an interesting one that I will leave for another time. But one thing it does is make CEO pay highly correlated to overall stock market returns.