This has nothing to with energy but I was amazed to read a recent WSJ report stating that "Executives and other highly compensated employees now  receive more than one-third of all pay in the U.S." And that doesn't even include equity-based compensation like stock options which is often a huge percentage of total executive compensation! The complete WSJ piece is reproduced below.
It seems to me that American society is being increasingly polarized both politically and financially, and that the two are related. Not that the rich are in one political camp and the just-getting-by in another. Rather, it seems to me, the difference is more how you feel about the financial polarization than what pole you are in that determines your political outlook. People who think this trend is just fine (and some who feel that way don't make the big bucks) tend to be Republicans and some who feel that it's a problem and that taxation aught to be more of an equalizing force tend to be Democrats.
You can put me in the latter camp for a number of reasons. First, I think it's socially unhealthy for the great mass of Americans to be increasingly on the edge of their financial seats while a huge number of business leaders (along with "public personalities" in sports and entertainment) are compensated so generously that they have little basis for sympathizing with the every day problems of so many others. Some overcompensated executives sometimes sound like Calvanists (especially in private conversations), having come to believe they are a superior being to most "workers" and are fully entitled to a life of financial plenty while others live in poverty. Such thinking contributes to social discord and disunity. If it becomes sufficiently extreme, it can lead to - and has lead to - social revolutions such as the French Revolution.
Secondly, I think executive compensation is a corrupt system in which buddies on different boards all stick up for each other's pay checks. Hardly any directors of public companies have the guts to challenge CEO and other top executive compensation. To do so would be to acquire an "odor" among the business elite. It would paint the renegade director as someone who's "socialist beliefs" are suspect and unreliable - not necessarily aligned with those of the business elite, but rather with the "stockholder." Who would have ever thought that being pro-stockholder could get someone blackballed from the U.S. corporate club? But that seems to be the case today, and I think such a mind-set itself is very unhealthy for American corporations.
Thirdly, I think the huge levels of corporate compensation contribute to the domination of Congress by an increasing multitude of businesses. A good part of executive compensation - along with corporate lobbying funds - increasingly finds its way to politicians. Anyone who thinks that money buys only "access" and not results when applied to Congress is very naive, I think. A corrupt political system is inherently less stable and I think the U.S. system is becoming more and more corrupt every year as corporate lobbying grows inexorably stronger.
In my view, American business has become sick and the symptom is run-away compensation. It's no wonder that in such an environment there are opportunities for leveraged buyout firms (and the occasional benevolent controlling stockholder such as Warren Buffet) to operate very successful enterprises. Such businesses are operated for the benefit of shareholders. Meanwhile, a lot of the competitors to such businesses have the equivalent of one arm tied behind their back - an arm that manipulates a bloated salary structure.