Your point is well-stated and I think that my position is balanced enough ... meant, of course, to be taken in context (that is, “with a grain of salt”). Scott Adams has never run out of source-material for Dilbert, and he never will.
I was, myself, one of the people who was cut from a company for the sake of a stock-price. (The company in question was an early dot-bomb bubble that is now, of course, nowhere to be seen.)
“ ... but I am liv-ing still ...”
-- Jimmy Webb; The Highhwaymen.
a time when I admit that I took such things personally. But, that was long ago now. I know how to defend myself, and how to sell myself; and I do both.
As you say, I have never known (nor been) a manager who had any control whatever on what the employee salary ranges could be. Nor has any contracting agency ever had control over “the rate-card.” There are many things that one has no control over, and “employee performance” unfortunately has much less true impact than one might think. “Being in business,” at whatever size of level you might be, is considerably more of a crap-shoot than anyone who has always been an employee might suppose. I have been in a room where the landlord’s agent calmly walked through, telling everyone to gather their things because he had a court-judgment, a padlock and chain in his hand and he was about to shutter the place for non-payment of rent. (I knew that I could kiss my last invoice good-bye, too; and I was right, but it was worse. Having a bankrupt company as your client is no picnic, ’cuz it can cost you a lot of money that you legitimately received and have already spent.)