HIGH-FLYING CEOs

They say it's lonely at the top, but one thing is for sure: The seats are much cushier up there.

They say it’s lonely at the top, but one thing is for sure: The seats are much cushier up there.

Not only is the executive suite padded with multimillion-dollar pay packages, but the top honchos also enjoy an extra-special perk: free use of corporate jets for personal travel. This is the apex of the soft life – luxurious leather seats, on-board massages, gourmet meals, fine wines, and, best of all, the plane waits for you!

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We’re not talking about business trips, but golf outings, vacations, and such. Take Richard Parsons, CEO of Time Warner. He hops the corporate jet twice a year to visit his vineyard and villa in Tuscany, costing up to $170,000 for each round trip. Even though Parsons is paid more than $16 million a year, he passes this flight tab to the shareholders and consumers of Time Warner. Indeed, I think of Parsons’ flights every time his company jacks up my monthly cable bill!

How do corporations rationalize this gross pampering of the boss? 9/11, of course! Just as the Bushites cite terrorism as their excuse for everything, CEOs say they have no choice but to fly everywhere on private jets for “security reasons.” For example, Rollins Inc., the pest control outfit, cites security as the reason for paying $117,000 last year for the pleasure trips of its CEO. But, as one critic noted, the only terrorist threat to this guy would be if “one day cockroaches decided to start fighting back.”

Some honchos keep flying high on the corporate tab even after they retire. Bank of America, for example, is leasing a private jet just so its retired chairman can travel in hassle-free luxury between his homes in Boston, Nantucket, and Key Largo for the rest of his life.

This is Jim Hightower saying… Bear in mind that these are the same executives who’re claiming that corporations can no longer afford such “luxuries” as health care and decent pay for working families.

Sources:
“A Growing Perk: Personal Trips incorporate Jets,” The New York Times, May 10, 2006.

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

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