Thursday, March 15, 2012

They Make Allowances . . . for Themselves

USA Today puts yet another disgusting story about super rich people on the front page. We know these guys (and gals) are laughing all the way to the bank, indeed, rolling in the aisles because they sit at the pinnacle of the Mount of Worthiness in the USA. They are rich. And given our times, they are getting richer by the day. You've read all the stuff about how many hundreds of times more the CEOs make over the workers. I don't remember the numbers, of course, but you can find them easily enough on the web. The story in the paper today is a variation on the familiar theme of how the top of the pile sucks up far more money than it possibly needs. Well, it turns out that many CEOs are collecting cash allowances on top of their outrageous salaries and in addition to other perks such as free private use of corporate aircraft, personal cars, cellphones, and a host of other perks. Some high level execs are pocketing as much as $84,000 in such allowances annually. "This is 70 percent higher than the median U.S. household income of $49, 455," the story points out.

Some specifics:
•United Technologies. Senior execs get flexible allowances equal to 5% of base salaries. That's worth $84,000 for CEO Louis ChĂȘnevert, who used $36,000 for a car lease. ChĂȘnevert's 2011 compensation: $22.8 million, plus $7.4 million in stock and options gains.
•C.R. Bard. CEO Timothy Ring got $65,000, plus $8 million in compensation and $15.3 million from options and vested shares. Other execs got $40,000, including CFO Todd Schermerhorn, who exercised options worth $25.6 million. The medical products marketer says allowances offset costs for company cars, financial planning and other perks.
American Express. CEO Ken Chenault and other execs get $35,000. Chenault's 2011 comp: $22.5 million, plus $5.9 million from vested shares. Chenault's other perks — including use of company aircraft and local travel — cost $365,000. Spokeswoman Marina Norville says allowances have been in effect for years.
Jack in the Box. CEO Linda Lang gets $66,500 a year; other execs, at least $45,000. The fast-food chain says allowances replace other perks and cover costs such as business use of personal cars and cellphones. Lang's 2011 compensation: $4.5 million, plus option gains worth more than $750,000.
 I keep wondering when the struggling hard-working, hard-pressed American working people are going to wake up to the screaming injustice of a system that works like this. 
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