EXECUTIVE EXCESS IN THE GREAT RECESSION

"No pain, no gain," say the fitness folks. But – ouch! – this old exercise cliché has been badly twisted by many of America's top CEOs, who are getting gains from our pains.
Jim Hightower's Radio Lowdown
Jim Hightower's Radio Lowdown
EXECUTIVE EXCESS IN THE GREAT RECESSION
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“No pain, no gain,” say the fitness folks. But – ouch! – this old exercise cliché has been badly twisted by many of America’s top CEOs, who are getting gains from our pains.

A new survey finds that corporate chieftains who inflict economic pain on the company’s workers receive more financial gain for themselves. The Institute for Policy Studies examined the layoff/payoff records of America’s 500 largest corporations during the past couple of years. IPS researchers report that the 50 CEOs who fired the most rank-and-file employees averaged 42-percent higher pay than their peers, averaging an extra $3.5 million each.

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One of the champions in this contest of convoluted corporate compensation was Mark Hurd. As chief executive of computer giant Hewlett-Packard, Hurd dumped 6,400 workers in 2009 – a year in which he pocketed a paycheck of $24.2 million. Earlier this year, Hurd was forced to resign from HP after an internal investigation found that he falsified some expense reports. No need to weep for Mark, though – he was comfortably compensated for this bad turn of fortune, receiving a severance package reportedly worth $40 million.

Being bad, you see, can be awfully good for a CEO’s bottom line. For example, IPS documented one category of badness-to-goodness that is especially infuriating. Five of the 50 leading pink-slip issuers last year were also bailout barons. Among them was Kenneth Chenault, honcho of American Express, which got $3.4 billion from us taxpayers in 2008 to save it from financial ruin. In gratitude, Chenault subsequently offed 4,000 employees, then helped himself to a paycheck of nearly $17 million, including a $5 million cash bonus.

To see the full IPS report, Titled “Executive Excess 2010,” and to help stop the excess, go to www.ips-dc.org.

www.ips-dc.org/reports/executive_excess_2010

“CEOs lay off thousands, rake in millions, www.msnbc.com, September 1, 2010.

“Hidden Corporate Scandal: CEOs Who Laid Off the Most Workers Rake in the Most Treasure,” www.alternet.org, September 1, 2010.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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