是否这样,我得悄然走远? 还是
冒着风险 —— 心啊!心!—— 被命运绞碎?






五月 26, 2007









Published: May 25, 2007

Like most companies, Office Depot has long made sure that its chief executive was the highest-paid employee. Ten years ago, the $2.2 million pay package of its chief was more than double that of his No. 2. The fifth-ranked executive received less than one-third.

But the incentive for reaching the very top of the company is now far greater. Steve Odland, who runs Office Depot today, made almost $12 million last year, more than four times the compensation of the second-highest-paid executive and over six times that of the fifth-ranking executive in the current hierarchy.

As executive pay has surged in most American companies, attention has focused on the growing gap between the earnings of top executives and the average wage of workers in cubicles or on the shop floor. Little noticed, though, is how much the gap has also widened between the summit and the next few echelons down.

“It’s executive pay chasing executive pay,” said Mark Van Clieaf, managing director of MVC Associates International, a consulting firm that develops compensation plans. “But nobody looked at the issue of internal pay equity, so the disparity just kept getting bigger.”

Few are deprived in corporate suites, of course. But the widening disparities in business, which show up in a variety of other ways, reflect a dynamic that is taking hold across the economy: the growing concentration of wealth and income among a select group at the pinnacle of success, leaving many others with similar talents and experience well behind.

In the 1960s and ’70s, chief executives running the nation’s biggest companies earned 80 percent more, on average, than the third-highest-paid executives, according to a recent study by Carola Frydman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Raven E. Saks at the Federal Reserve. By the early part of this decade, the gap in the executive suite between No. 1 and No. 3 had swollen to 260 percent.

Many experts argue that chief executives have a particular ability to drive their own pay upward, in part by manipulating directors they work closely with and encouraging the use of consulting firms that have a built-in incentive to increase pay packages for those who hire them.

“There’s a sense that the C.E.O.’s pay is not determined by supply and demand,” said Robert J. Gordon, a professor of economics at Northwestern University.

There is some truth to that, but economists who have recently studied the issue contend that basic economic forces still play a big role in determining pay at the very top of the corporate ladder. It just happens to be working to the advantage of an increasingly narrow slice of business leaders.

The pay of chief executives, analysts say, is being driven by superstar dynamics similar to those that determine the inordinate rewards for pop stars and athletes — a phenomenon first explained by Sherwin Rosen of the University of Chicago in 1981 and underlined more than a decade ago by the economists Robert H. Frank and Philip J. Cook in their book “The Winner-Take-All Society” (Free Press, 1995).

As American companies, American hedge funds — and even American lawsuits — have grown in size, it has become ever more valuable to get the “best” chief executive or fund manager or litigator. This has fueled a fierce competition for talent at the top, which has pushed economic rewards farther up the ladder of success, concentrating the richest pay levels even more.

“There is an interaction between technology and scale which is true in all these businesses,” said Steven N. Kaplan, a finance professor at the Graduate School of Business of the University of Chicago. “One person can oversee more assets, and this translates into more money.”

The gap in executive pay is widening even at companies that once had more even-handed practices. At Wal-Mart, for instance, the top executive 10 years ago made some 40 percent more than his second in command. Last year, H. Lee Scott, the chief executive, received more than twice as much as his chief administrative officer, John B. Menzer.

“Wal-Mart was under the influence of its founder for so long, and he had a different set of values than the current managers,” said Graef S. Crystal, a leading expert on executive pay. “He was much more egalitarian. These are professional managers.”

The changing rewards for corporate executives are not unlike the acute concentration of wealth among entertainment industry superstars, with television, the globalization of movie audiences and the spread of digital technologies having allowed those at the very top to generate enormous incomes at the expense of those that might be slightly less popular.

Alan B. Krueger, a Princeton economist, found that the share of concert ticket revenue taken by the top 1 percent of pop stars — measured by sales per concert — rose to 56 percent in 2003 from 26 percent in 1982.

Similarly, the best-paid baseball player 20 years ago, Gary Carter, earned $2.4 million from the New York Mets, 41 percent more than the 25th-ranked, Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos. This season, the $28 million, pro rated, that the Yankees will pay Roger Clemens is more than double the paycheck of David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox, who is 24 rungs down.

This even more skewed pattern at and near the top of the income ladder has become a sort of national standard. From 1985 to 2005, the incomes of taxpayers in the top 10th of earnings rose about 54 percent after inflation, to an average of $207,200, according to Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics and Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley.

But among the top 1 percent of taxpayers it increased 128 percent, to $812,500. And among the top 0.01 percent it nearly quadrupled, to $14 million on average.

Corporate executives, for all the attention they have drawn, are far from a majority of the superwealthy. Mr. Gordon and Ian Dew-Becker at the National Bureau of Economic Research estimated that executives accounted for 20 percent of the income in the top 0.01 percent of the scale. Others put their share lower — around 8.5 percent.

As for the gap between C.E.O. pay and that of executives working under them, one reason may be that the larger share of stock options in top executives’ compensation packages these days makes the gap widen when the market is rising, as it was in the late 1990s and generally these days. By contrast, it narrowed somewhat in the first years of the decade, when equity prices fell.

Still, that does not fully explain the current situation, fueling the debate over runaway executive pay. Standard views tend to splinter between corporate apologists, who say that top executives have tougher jobs and are more deserving than in the past, and critics who accuse many of them, in essence, of doing little more than larding their pay at the expense of stockholders.

At Office Depot, a spokesman, Brian Levine, said, “We usually don’t comment on our executive compensation other than to say all our programs are linked directly to performance.”

Mr. Scott of Wal-Mart, at a recent lunch with reporters, argued that his pay had shot up in relation to the rest of the executive pack in part because today’s chief has a much more demanding job than a decade ago.

“As we enter a world that is more complex, the company places value on things that go beyond the running of the business,” Mr. Scott said. “There are aspects of interfacing with the external world that are more like running a presidential campaign than running a business.”

But a number of economists argue that the steep growth of executive pay has less to do with the complexities of the job and more with the competition for talent among American companies.

Kevin J. Murphy, a professor of finance at the University of Southern California, said that in the 1970s, fewer than 10 percent of chief executives were hired from outside and most of those were brought in to save a company in distress.

Since then, he argued, generalist executive skills have become more valuable to companies than expertise in whatever the company does, leading to fewer businesses’ promoting executives from within. By 2000, more than a third of all new chiefs were brought in from outside.

As a result, more C.E.O.’s find themselves in the enviable position of being pursued by competing suitors. And this type of market does not exist to the same extent for executives one or two notches down.

“A really successful C.E.O. can have a significant impact on the stock price,” said Joseph E. Bachelder, a tax lawyer who advises firms on executive pay, “and I’m not sure I can say the same is true generally about the C.F.O. or a general counsel.”

As companies grow and expand globally, the value of the top executive can grow exponentially. In a study last year, two economists, Xavier Gabaix of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Augustin Landier of New York University, argued that the fast rise in pay of corporate C.E.O.’s mostly reflected the growing size of American corporations.

Processing reams of data, the economists estimated that hiring the most effective chief executive in the country would, statistically, increase the stock value of a company by only 0.016 percent, compared with hiring the 250th chief executive. But at a company like General Electric, which is worth about $380 billion, that tiny difference would amount to $60 million.

This, the economists argued, helps explain why that top chief executive earned five times as much as the 250th. “Substantial firm size leads to the economics of superstars, translating small differences in ability to very large deviations in pay,” the economists wrote.

But all the attention on chief executives as business superstars raises new questions. In a report published last year, Moody’s Investors Service said it would start taking into account the difference in pay within an executive team in its bond ratings.

“It raises issues of key-person risk and of whether the C.E.O. has too much authority,” said Mark Watson, managing director of the corporate governance group at Moody’s. “We are rating the company, not the person. A bus might come by and knock the person over.”

Published: May 24, 2007

Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1991 for studying the boundary lines between order and disorder in materials like liquid crystals and polymers, died Friday in Orsay, a Paris suburb. He was 74.

His death was reported by the newspaper Le Monde, which cited his family but did not give a cause.

Discovered in the late 19th century, liquid crystals are now common in computer displays and flat-screen televisions. They behave in a paradoxical way, flowing like liquid as their molecules line up in the same direction as those in a solid crystal.

Dr. de Gennes did not invent or build liquid crystal displays, or L.C.D.’s, but instead answered fundamental questions of how they behave. Working on a wide range of topics, he was able to take solutions from one field of physics and show by analogy how they could solve entirely different problems.

For example, he showed how the equations governing superconductors — materials that carry electricity with no resistance — could be applied to liquid crystals, even though they have very different physical compositions.

“Only few people have sufficiently deep insight and sufficient overview to carry out this process,” Prof. Ingvar Lindgren of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said at the Nobel presentation ceremony. “De Gennes is definitely one of them.”

Dr. de Gennes also worked out theory describing the tangling of long, spaghetti-like molecules known as polymers, this time drawing on knowledge from magnetism.

Together with other scientists, Dr. de Gennes “provided the framework of how you understand the funny mechanical properties of polymers,” said Philip A. Pincus, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “That’s very important for how we make plastics.”

Later, Dr. de Gennes worked on the dynamics of wet and sticky surfaces.

“He’s clearly one of the great scientists of the end of the 20th century,” said Robert B. Meyer, a professor of physics at Brandeis University.

Born in Paris on Oct. 24, 1932, Pierre-Gilles de Gennes graduated from École Normale Supérieure in Paris. He worked as a research engineer at the French Atomic Energy Commission before doing post-doctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley, followed by 27 months in the French Navy.

In 1961, Dr. de Gennes became a professor of solid state physics at the University of Paris in Orsay, where he first studied superconductors before moving into what was then a scientific backwater, liquid crystals. “His leadership brought in a lot of good people,” Dr. Meyer said. “The fundamental science just exploded after his working in the field.”

Dr. de Gennes later became a professor of physics at Collège de France and director of École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles.

His survivors include his wife, Anne-Marie, and seven children.

After winning the Nobel Prize, Dr. de Gennes visited about 200 high schools to give talks to students about science and innovation. He also appeared regularly on talk shows. “When he walked down the street in Paris, people would recognize him,” Dr. Pincus said.

In 1997, Dr. de Gennes even appeared briefly in a film about Pierre and Marie Curie.

But at the scientific pinnacle, Dr. de Gennes deprecatingly played down his accomplishments.

“This is the first and probably the last time in my life where I have dinner with queens and princesses,” he said in a short speech at the Nobel Prize banquet in 1991. “I am worried. I suspect that with the chimes of midnight I will be turned into a pumpkin.”

Published: May 23, 2007

As a warm-up to a birthday celebration, it was sedate, and also spartan.

There was no cake. There were no candles. There was just a bunch of middle-aged men standing around in the back room of the library at the New York Botanical Garden yesterday, talking about the birthday boy and sex.

They were talking about the genius of genuses — or genera, to cite the preferred plural. Either way, Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish naturalist, was born 300 years ago today and is remembered as the man who gave the world modern taxonomy, the science of classifying organisms.

Among the things said about Linnaeus at the Botanical Garden in the Bronx was this: “The terminology he used, you could construe as botanical pornography.”

That was as racy as it got.

The man who mentioned “botanical pornography” was Robbin C. Moran, a Linnaeus expert and the garden’s curator of ferns. He described Linnaeus as an egotist who once declared, “God creates, Linnaeus arranges.” Dr. Moran said Linnaeus’s contemporary, Albrecht von Haller, topped that, calling Linnaeus “the second Adam” because Adam was the one who named everything the first time around, in the Garden of Eden.

Linnaeus is known for some firsts of his own, besides introducing his system of nomenclature for living things. He was the first to use a centigrade thermometer the way it is used today. (Anders Celsius was the first to divide the range between the freezing point and boiling point of water into 100 units, but made zero the boiling point and 100 the freezing point.)

Linnaeus was also the first person who figured out how to grow bananas in Europe. (Imitating the monsoon climates of Asia, he let the soil dry out, then bombarded it with water.)

Dr. Moran said Linnaeus presented his banana crop to the king and queen of Sweden. And yes, they had no bananas in Sweden until after World War I — at least not commercially. “The banana plant was a novelty,” Dr. Moran said. “Even to see the plant was a marvel.”

So what about the name of the man who named things? His last name was derived, appropriately enough, from the name of a tree.

“A European basswood,” Dr. Moran said.

Linnaeus’s father was born Nils Ingemarsson. Dr. Moran said Swedes were switching to Latinized surnames around the time Nils went to theology school. He decided to name himself after the linden tree that grew on the family farm. That gave him the name Lin, which was Latinized to Linnaeus. He became Nils Linnaeus; his son was Carl Linnaeus but became Carl von Linné after Sweden made him a noble in 1761.

As if to make things more confusing, a paper by Dr. Moran points out that Linneaus later classified the linden tree from the family farm Tilia cordata.

Gordon L. McDaniel, the library’s head of cataloging services, pulled out a microfilmed copy of Linnaeus’s baptismal record. Then he and Dr. Moran looked at half a dozen rare books by and about Linnaeus from the library’s collection.

In one, prepared for a wealthy Dutchman who had hired Linnaeus to catalog his garden, Linnaeus’s likeness appears twice in the same engraving in the front of the book. The engraver used Linnaeus’s face to represent the god Apollo.

“I don’t know of any other scientist who depicted himself as a Greek god,” Dr. Moran said. (In his writing, he has taken his claim beyond science, saying he knows of “no other Enlightenment or Renaissance scholar” who had let himself be shown that way.)

Linnaeus also appears as himself, putting a garland on the Dutchman.

Dr. Moran and Dr. McDaniel moved on to another book. “Now, the sexual system,” Dr. Moran said. “This is where it gets good.”

Linnaeus, Dr. Moran said, decided that plants enjoy sex. He came to that conclusion as a 22-year-old university student and handed in a paper about it on New Year’s Day, when, by custom, Swedish university students usually made up a flattering verse about a professor.

“This was a bombshell,” Dr. Moran said. “Science had been dominated by Aristotle, who said that plants don’t move, so plants don’t have sex.”

Going public with statements like “every animal feels the sexual urge” was, Dr. Moran said, “gutsy” of Linnaeus, who also declared in the New Year’s paper, “Yes, love comes even to the plants.” He also wrote about plants as being brides and bridegrooms, the latter embracing the former.

“The biggest objection to Linnaeus’s sexual system of plant classification was that it was immodest,” Dr. Moran said. “You couldn’t teach it to women and young people.”

Linnaeus also found a way to have the last word. “Linnaeus got even as only a taxonomist can,” Dr. Moran said. “He named smelly, ugly plants after his critics.”

So he named a weed Siegesbeckia, after Johann Siegesbeck, a German who called Linnaeus’s work “loathsome harlotry” and also said, “Who would have thought that bluebells, lilies and onions could be up to such immorality?”

The second of Johann Strauss the elder’s sons, Josef, was born in Vienna on 20 August 1827. After completing his formal education he studied mechanical engineering, opposing his father’s wish that he should enlist in the army, and embarked upon a career as an architectural draughtsman and foreman, in which field he soon distinguished himself.

I n his spare time he put to good use his talents as an artist, painter, poet, dramatist, singer, composer and inventor – he designed the horse-drawn forerunner of today’s revolving-brush street-sweeping vehicles – and also published two textbooks on mathematical subjects. He received several patents for various devices, and, it was only when his elder brother, Johann II, became ill from over-work, that he reluctantly took over – temporarily, he thought – the leadership of the Strauss orchestra.

The shy and sensitive Josef Strauss was coerced into deputizing for his brother Johann when the latter’s doctors prescribed for him a lengthy rest cure in 1853. Although temporarily relinquishing the post of ‘interim conductor’ upon Johann’s return, Josef soon abandoned his own career and joined the family music ‘business’ full time. A remarkably versatile, gifted and prolific composer – Johann once said of him: “Pepi [Josef] is the more gifted of us two; I am merely the more popular…” – Josef left more than 300 original dances and marches, as well as 500 arrangements of music by other composers.

S o, he became a “genius against his will” when his elder brother, Johann, fell dangerously ill and Josef had to take over the family orchestra. Josef made his debut as a conductor in 1853 at the famous ‘Sperl ballroom’ in Vienna.
His career as a composer began shortly afterwards and up to his death, he wrote about 300 dance compositions, among them the famous waltzes, Village Swallows from Austria (1864), Transactions (1865), The Music of the Spheres (1868) and The Course of my Life is Love and Joy (Live, Laugh, and Love) (1869). His specialty was the polka mazurka – Woman’s Heart (1864) and The Dragonfly (1866) being exquisite examples of the genre. Other notable polkas are On Holiday (Auf Ferienreisen) (1863), Fireproof (Feuerfest) and Without Cares (Ohne Sorgen) (both 1869).

In addition, he made 400 to 500 arrangements of other composers’ music. He was the only musical Strauss never to visit Britain. He married in 1857 and had one daughter. Josef’s best-known composition is ‘Village Swallows’. Josef is regarded by many authorities on Strauss music as being the greatest genius of the family.

H e died in Vienna on 22 July 1870, following a fall from the conductor’s podium, and is best remembered today as composer of the waltzes Village Swallows from Austria (1864), The Mysterious Powers of Magnetism (1865) and Music of the Spheres (1868) as well as co-writing the Pizzicato-Polka (1869) with his brother Johann.
The complete works of Josef Strauss have now been issued on compact disc under the Marco Polo label.

Mrs Hedwig Aigner-Strauss is a descendent of Josef Strauss and a keen supporter of the family tradition. She has one son, Willi, who is a professional musician.