CEO Focus Holiday Bonus and Salary Stalking

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There are golden parachutes. And there are pyrite CEO bonuses, like the $10-million fool’s gold bonus recently requested by Merrill Lynch’s John Thain, as reported by the major media.

The funny thing was that Thain was prospecting for an eight-figure payday after nearly running Merrill Lynch into the ground. And even worse, his greedy play exposed him as an ivory tower denizen with a total disconnect to what’s going on in America’s middle class neighborhoods. Has Thain not seen the cobwebs adorning retail cash registers or the government cheese lines that look like something out of Disney World on a sunny day, just with more frowns and fewer plastic mouse ears?

Of course, after Thain was lambasted by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the exec of the fledgling company changed his mind.

Under the shroud of a recession, executive pay has become much more transparent, especially when salaries and bonuses continue to rise in lieu of languishing profits. Or even worse, when these bonuses are being subsidized by taxpayer-supplied bailouts. Credit gun-slinging politicians like Cuomo and a general public that just won’t stand for the disparity any longer.

While it took the Big Three domestic auto heads a little while to clean the wax out – maybe the high altitude endured while flying in their private jets messed with their inner ears – they finally got it. Now GM’s Rick Wagoner and Ford’s Alan Mulally are accepting $1 annual salaries, part of their concession to bid for a federal bailout.

What nice guys, right? What goddamn Samaritans? Heck, these swell fellas actually drove cross country last time they came to beg for money from Uncle Sam.

Does Wagoner not realize that most families make longer drives, jam-packed in awful cars without chauffeurs each year – and that’s for vacation? Someone should force him to watch “Little Miss Sunshine” with his eyelids pried open a la “A Clockwork Orange.”

But he’s a hero, right?

Lost in the salary shuffle is the fact that these auto chiefs stole someone else’s shtick, namely, the tech industry. You might remember how in 2005, Google execs Eric Schmidt, Larry Page and Sergey Brin agreed to do their gigs for a buck. And these techies actually copied Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who initiated the token salary concept.

We’re not calling these smart rich dudes heroes, either. After all, given the stock grants and other perks these fat cats get, they’re not exactly struggling.

But at least the top brass in the tech world get it, and had the foresight to understand the goodwill they could build with employees, shareholders, the media and even the general public through this effort.

And the day Google chiefs fly to Washington to beg for funds is the real day the earth will stand still.

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15 Comments
  1. Cari

    December 15, 2008 at 10:59 am

    You are right on. It makes me crazy when I hear stories like John Thains.

  2. mattspizza

    December 15, 2008 at 11:34 am

    He received $15 million for 2007. His entire compensation is based on this bonus. I don't think he does anything wrong by asking for his agreed upon comp. He didn’t agree to performance based compensation, did he?

  3. Julie

    December 15, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Actually – they're borrowing from Lee Iacocca, who in 1978 dropped his salary to $1 a year to save Chrysler Corporation – and it worked.

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  5. Craig (lapp)

    December 15, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    Even if it was a part of some excessive compensation package, when a company is failing you should know better then to think you deserve this.

  6. mattspizza

    December 17, 2008 at 9:44 am

    What about employee bonuses? Should they be denied as well?

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    December 23, 2008 at 9:47 am

    I got a grant from the federal government for $12,000 in financial aid, see how you can get one also at
    http://couponredeemer.com/federalgrants/

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    May 24, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Yep, these stories make me crazy as well……

  10. Fendi Sunglasses

    May 24, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Yep, these stories make me crazy as well……

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    September 9, 2009 at 6:46 am

    They're borrowing from Lee Iacocca, who in 1978 dropped his salary to $1 a year to save Chrysler Corporation.

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    October 29, 2009 at 8:09 am

    He received $15 million for 2007. His entire compensation is based on this bonus. I don't think he does anything wrong by asking for his agreed upon comp. He didn’t agree to performance based compensation, did he?

  13. Luxury Car Seat

    October 29, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    He received $15 million for 2007. His entire compensation is based on this bonus. I don't think he does anything wrong by asking for his agreed upon comp. He didn’t agree to performance based compensation, did he?

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    January 28, 2010 at 10:31 am

    This is madness. I can't believe that some people are still taking more than what they deserve despite the fact that there are more people who are getting poorer by the day. Sheesh!

  15. Watch Mobile

    February 23, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    great post

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