LETTERS : If you think that's the rate for the job, Mr Brown, let's tes t it

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The Independent Online
BRIAN CATHCART ("The new wage barons", 22 January) effectively demolishes the simplistic supply and demand argument for high pay in our boardrooms. It has become a corporate totem and like many totem poles seems to rise higher and higher. Shareho lders obviously feel the very public £1m per annum paid to their top executive does more for their company's prestige than the £20,000 paid to 50 other employees.

However, it may all serve to motivate those aspiring to the top. Human nature seems to find the small probability of a huge reward irresistible. There are many reasons for arguing that huge salaries (and huge lottery and pools wins) should be spread around more thinly, but we get the system we deserve. The remote chance that we may enjoy those huge rewards (or prizes) keeps us working harder (or buying lottery tickets) than if the reward were smaller but we had more chance of getting it.

The system, like human nature, is flawed. Can't we do better?

Roger Britton Farnham, Surrey