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Ex-CEO’s pay may not be a crime, but it is a sin

I am an advanced-practice psychiatric nurse and I work at the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in Brockton. After arriving home Wednesday evening, I read that day's Globe, as is my habit. Brian McGrory's Metro column “Soaring greed” was as enraging as it was disheartening. There is probably little I can add to McGrory’s admonition that “America is heading straight off a cliff” when an individual, such as Liberty Mutual’s former chief executive Ted Kelly, is seen as warranting a salary “of $192,000 per working day, $24,000 an hour.” I will simply offer my view that this represents an obscene distortion of compensation that is reasonable and warranted.

It may not be a crime, but it is sinful nonetheless. Kelly is quoted as having said that Massachusetts residents “are paying excess taxes to support government workers who get high salaries and very rich benefits.” Really? I would invite him to accompany me to work in the Brockton VA and meet numerous examples of devoted, hard-working, talented and experienced federal employees whose salaries are generally considered appropriate on this planet. I suspect that most of us go home every day knowing that we have earned our salaries. Do Kelly and other Liberty Mutual executives feel the same? In what solar system is $24,000 an hour justifiable?

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At any rate, the invitation is open: Kelly should be forewarned, though, that I'll be driving to Brockton, not flying in my Gulfstream or Bombardier. The parking lot is run-of-the-mill asphalt, minus the heated ramps.

Eventually, citizens of all professions who still believe in fairness, salaries based in reality, and some sense of proportion may have to march in the streets. Count me in.

Lisa Langhammer

West Roxbury

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