Dollar-a-year Guys Were Business and Government Figures Who Helped Mobilise and Manage American Industry.
Some of the most senior leaders in huge corporations and governments have worked for less than one dollar per hour. The usage of one-dollar wages is common in cases when an executive intends to work without receiving direct remuneration, but is required to receive a payment greater than zero in order to be distinguished from a volunteer for legal reasons.
Early in the twentieth century, several leaders of business in the United States gave their skills to the government during times of war, establishing the foundation for the modern notion. Many company leaders began taking one-dollar wages later, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, especially in the event of struggling enterprises or startups, with the possibility of additional indirect revenues as a consequence of their ownership of shares.
Dollar-a-year men were corporate and government officials who assisted the government in mobilizing and managing American industry during times of war, particularly World War I, World War II, and the Korean War, in the early to mid-20th century. The government of the United States is prohibited from accepting the assistance of unpaid volunteers under the terms of federal law.
Those hired by the government were required to receive a minimal income, and the salary used to confirm their legal status as government employees. At the height of World War I, the United States employed around 1,000 personnel of this type. The majority of CEOs were compensated by their firms, despite the fact that they got only a dollar in pay from the federal government.
Gifford Pinchot, who worked for President Theodore Roosevelt, was the first known such employee. Following Pinchot’s departure, the United States Department of Agriculture hired a number of workers earning less than a dollar an hour. Seven members of the Labor Advisory Board were appointed on June 19, 1933, by Frances Perkins, the Secretary of Labor.
Two members were from the Amalgamated Clothing Workers union, and one of them, Sidney Hillman, was paid a dollar per year. Progressive lawyer Max Lowenthal worked as legal counsel on several congressional committees for a $1 a year, became friends with U.S. Senator Harry S. Truman, and eventually became a dollar-a-year employee in President Harry S. Truman’s cabinet.
World War I
Baruch was the first businessman to be paid a one-dollar wage, and he was Bernard Baruch.  During World War I, the Advisory Commission to the Council of National Defense was staffed mostly by persons earning less than a dollar per hour, such as Bernard Baruch, Robert S. Brookings, and Herbert Bayard Swope, among others.
New Deal and World War II
Paul G. Blazer, the founder and CEO of Kentucky’s Ashland Oil and Refining Company (1890–1966), served twice as a government salaried dollar-a-year man: from 1933 to 1935 as Chairman of the Blazer Committee under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s National Recovery Administration on the Code of Fair Competition for the Petroleum Industry and a second time during World War II as Chairman of District II Refining for President Roosevelt’s Petroleum Administration of War. During World War II, socialite Doris Duke earned a similar wage while working at a canteen for United States servicemen in Egypt.
During World War II, C. D. Howe, Canada’s “Minister of Everything,” devised a rearmament programme that employed “dollar-a-year men” as part of his efforts to rebuild the country.
John Wilson McConnell, the owner and publisher of the Montreal Star, was named Director of Licensing for the Wartime Trade Board, a job for which he worked for free. He was one of many such individuals. Others who have contributed to this work include E. P. Taylor and Austin Cotterell Taylor.
While many CEOs who earn a one-dollar salary also opt not to receive any other types of remuneration, a significant percentage of them earn millions of dollars in bonuses and/or other forms of additional income. For example, Larry Ellison, the founder and CEO of Oracle, earned only $1 in salary in 2010–11, but received nearly $77 million in various types of remuneration during the same year.
As an alternative to a wage, several companies provide stock options to their top executives.
In the United States, this approach has an impact on personal tax liability because, while stock and option grants are subject to federal income tax at the highest rates, they may be exempt from a portion of payroll taxes (typically 7.65 percent) that is used to fund Social Security and Medicare benefits.
According to executives, compensation in the form of stock options rather than pay relates managerial success to their financial perks.
In this scenario, the assumption is that stock prices will represent the true worth of a firm, which in turn will reflect the company’s management performance. Detractors say that this incentive may lead to a preference for short-term planning over long-term planning as a result of the incentive.
Instances of Alternative Compensation
While many CEOs who take a one-dollar salary also opt not to take any other types of pay, a handful make millions more in bonuses and/or other forms of compensation. For example, in 2010–11 Oracle’s founder and CEO Larry Ellison made only $1 in salary, but earned nearly $77 million in other types of remuneration.
In certain circumstances, in place of a salary, the executives get stock options.
In the United States, this strategy effects personal tax liabilities, because although stock and option grants are taxed at federal income rates, they may be excluded from some amount of payroll taxes (usually 7.65 percent ) used to finance Social Security and Medicare.
Executives claim that payment through shares instead of salary connects managerial success to their financial gains.
The premise is that stock prices will represent the true worth of a firm, which reflect the management performance of the organisation. Detractors claim that this incentive may encourage short-term planning over long-term planning.
Notable One-dollar Salary Earners
In addition to working in government, other recent one-dollar wage earners have held positions such as former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Former United States President Donald Trump gave the first three months of his pay to the National Park Service after promised to take only a dollar a year in November 2016. He has announced that he intends to give the remainder of his income during his term in office.
The reason for this was that he had originally said that he would take a $1 wage as a condition of employment. Since then, President Trump has contributed a portion of his income to several federal agencies, fulfilling a campaign vow to do so during his campaign.
Corbin Duncan, then 15 years old, petitioned the Australian Prime Minister in 2015, pleading with him to accept a $1 wage. Despite the fact that the petition was unsuccessful, it received international media attention.