All right. Greed is the topic of the day, but before I get to CEOs, let me follow up on yesterday’s post. SMR pointed out that the mother of the octuplets is wangling to get $2 M to go on Oprah because of her (mother’s) super-awesome birthing capabilities. I didn’t want to believe it, so of course I looked it up.
Here is the link on UK Timesonline. If she does get the money, there needs to be somebody making sure that the KIDS get it and not her. I don’t think she should get jackshit, but then the kids will be the ones to suffer for it.
You know what really chaps my ass? Well, pretty much everything, but in this case, it’s the grief I got when I decided I didn’t want children. I was in my early twenties, and I just knew I didn’t want them. Reactions ranged from condescension (‘Oh, you’re still young–you’ll change your mind’) to anger (‘So I guess you think I’m bad for wanting kids, then!’). Yet, as I have stated before, my child-free status hurts no one (except for my mother. She’s still hoping).
On to love! Today’s video is Erasure’s Love to Hate You, and it’s live. So crank it up as I tell you what I love today.
So, what do I love today? I love when a story idea comes to my brain fully formed. I love walking around with the story unfolding, every scene as vivid as if it were is a movie. I love the anticipation of a great story (because all my best stories come to me intact), and I love not having to actually think it up. Then, when the whole story presents itself to my brain, I sit down at my computer and write for three days straight. At the end, I have a beautiful story that needs very little editing. I love that.
Now, on to the topic of the day: corporate greed.
First of all, why is everyone so shocked and appalled at how the CEOs of the bailed-out companies are acting? By the way, I called them ‘failed-out’ companies today–a true Freudian slip. Anyway, the sense of entitlement is entrenched in the corporate CEO culture, and a little thing like bankruptcy isn’t going to change that.
Look, all the CEOs of the major corporations sit on each other’s boards. The boards are the ones who set the salary compensation for the CEOs. It doesn’t take a genius to see that it’s one big clusterfuck to obscene amounts of wealth. If you listen to them talk, they say that they can’t possibly accept less than tewnty-five million a year because it would be disrespecting them.
No, wait, it’s athletes that say crap like that, but CEOs have similar views. The shining example is John Thaine, former chief of Merrill Lynch & Co. This guy could be the poster boy of how NOT to act while driving your company into the ground. First, he said he deserved an EXTRA ten million dollars last year as his year-end bonus because he prevented his company for collapsing any further. He doesn’t give any proof to his assertion, mind you, but why should we be deterred by the facts? After the ensuing outcry of rage, he backpedaled, claiming he never asked for the bonus.
Then, it was revealed that John Thain rushed out up to $4 million in bonuses before the end of the year and before Bank of America took over. There is some debate as to whether Bank of America knew or not. Not surprisingly, Thain says it did, and BoA says it didn’t. Thain then later justifies the bonuses with the ridiculous assertion that the best people would leave the company if they didn’t get said bonuses because their salary was really very little.
Putting aside the last dubious statement, there is something inherently wrong with this guy. BoA wanted twenty million from us, that’s right, from you and me, to cover its losses while acquiring Merrill Lynch, and this jackass wants us to believe that his people did such a stellar job, they deserved four million free and clear?
The straw that broke the proverbial back, however, was the news that Thain spent $1.2 million redecorating his office. When confronted with this particularly distasteful tidbit (he was subpoenaed), he said he should have paid for it himself given the world we live in right now and that he was gonna pay it back, honest.
In no world should anyone pay that much money to redecorate a fucking office! It doesn’t matter if it was him paying or Merrill Lynch–well, yes, it actually does. However, that isn’t the point I want to make, so I am going to ignore it for now. Anyway, the fact that he thought it necessary to redecorate his office and to spend that much money on it tells you all you need to know about the world he and others of his ilk inhabit. By the way, the last link lists four other stupid things on Wall Street that day. Make sure to check out the whole list. By now, everyone knows about the $87,000 Thain paid for an area rug, but the one that really boggled my mind is that he paid the celebrity decorator, Michael Smith (I’m assuming not Michael W. Smith), $800,000–eight times the amount the Obamas paid him to redo the White House. It’s also, incidentally, twice the president’s yearly salary.
Now, I’m not calling out Thain just to pick on him–well, yes I am. He offends me so greatly, I had to give him a verbal tongue-lashing. This is the mindset that needs to be drubbed out of existence.
President Obama (I still get chills writing that) is setting an executive salary cap limit of $500,000 for any institution begging for more of OUR money. There are enough loopholes in this provision that it’s going to make little difference, but still, the corporate shills are already making noise about how this is going to put a chill on the corporate environment. It’s been called a Draconian measure.
Let me state this in one-syllable words: Fuck you.
The weekly median American wage for the fourth quarter of 2008 was $728 (the page is in HTML form). There are differences between union and non-union, of course. Also, between women and men, and among different ethnic types. Here is a comprehensive table from the same site. I did some lazy calculations, and that means the median yearly wage is roughly $38,000. It would take that mythical median-income earner thirteen years to make $500,000, and yet, the median-wage earners do manage to stay alive somehow.
I am a socialist capitalist, so I don’t know what the solution is. I don’t think anyone is worth more than, say, a million a year (and I’m being generous). I think our society is hurt in general when one percent of the country has around ninety percent of the wealth. The sickening part is that they will keep getting more unless the general populace rises up in rage and shouts, “Enough, you greedy, fat bastards!” Remember, there are way more of us than there are of them, so let’s come together and make our outrage heard.