Senior Peon reporting for duty!
Johnson's Theory of Modern Corporate America states that there are really only four rungs on the corporate ladder to speak of: Junior Peons, Senior Peons, Junior Executives, and Senior Executives.
Junior Peons are those who do pretty much all of the actual *work*. Ironically, they're also the ones who typically have the least experience, in all forms of the word. That's where Senior Peons come in.
Senior Peons are those who decide specifically what the Junior Peons should do and then make sure they're doing it. If the Junior Peons don't do their work, the Senior Peons might actually have to do it themselves, and we can't have that. Senior Peons might be highly experienced technical dudes or managers of some type, but trust me, they're all still peons. Senior Peons typically take the fall for anything that goes wrong.
Junior Executives are those who, through either lucky circumstances of birth or extreme sociopathy, have crossed the Class Barrier. They exist to take credit for anything that goes right, shift blame for anything that goes wrong, consume free lunches, and accept stock options, but most importantly, to create a personal empire and justify its existence. I can't begin to explain the staff-hours that are committed to coming up with bizarre Powerpoint presentations for the sole purpose of explaining why each Junior Executive requires more staff and budget. (Junior Executives don't actually *create* those presentations, by the way -- that's what their vast arrays of Senior Peons are for! Really gifted Junior Executives even get their Senior Peons to *present* their justification slide shows for them.)
Senior Executives are those who massage Wall Street to get them to convince people to buy their stock and then use the proceeds to travel around the world giving motivational speeches, accepting honorary degrees, making promises to Senior Executives from other companies that have no connection with reality, and thinking up catchy new slogans.
So I'm a Senior Peon. I have been for probably 2/3 of my "career" following a truly meteoric rise through the ranks of Junior Peondom, and I expect to remain so until I retire or die (q.v. "donut of misery"). See, since I'm not a complete sociopath and I honestly don't have the urge to create a twisted little cult of personality around myself, I really don't have what it takes to ever cross the Great Divide. I'm not wired for it. Sure, the unending gravy train of ill-gotten loot would be great, but I really just want to be able to do good work and stay out of workplace politics. In fact, I've recently moved myself to what I would consider to be a Junior Peon job (except retaining my Senior Peon salary -- woo hoo!), and it's the best thing that's happened to me in at least 6 years.
Sorry for the length. Once I get rollin' on this topic, it's hard to stop myself. Going forward, I'll most likely leave the political material to Major John (he just loves that junk!) and I'll probably focus on tidbits of advice and/or commiseration for you Peons (and perhaps a few really clever Executives).