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The 10 Greediest People of 2008

For obvious reasons, we probably couldn't have picked a better year than 2008 to "honor" our most avaricious.

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Meanwhile, in November, news reports revealed that federal and state cable TV regulators fear that Comcast, amid the consumer confusion over the transition to all-digital over-the-air broadcasts, is pushing low-income cable TV subscribers into more expensive monthly cable packages.

5: Steve Jobs

In 2008, once again, the most notable executive in America's $1-a-year CEO club remained Steve Jobs, the chief exec at Apple Computer. Jobs has been collecting a mere $1 in annual salary ever since 1997. He has, to be sure, been collecting a few other rewards as well. He entered 2008 with about 5.5 million shares of Apple stock and a net worth not too far south of $6 billion.

This past March, to gain some input into any future rewards that might come their CEO's way, Apple shareholders passed a resolution that gives them an advisory "Say on Pay" vote on executive compensation. Joked Jobs in response: "I hope 'Say on Pay' will help me with my $1 a year salary."

Apple corporate directors aren't waiting for any shareholder help. In the company's 2008 proxy statement, they noted that they're already "considering additional compensation arrangements" for Jobs, given the "critical" importance of his "continued leadership."

Jobs himself told shareholders at this year's Apple annual meeting that he "feels confident" that any number of the company's top execs "could take his place." Even so, he's probably eager to see what sort of "additional compensation" Apple's imaginative board might have in mind.

In 1999, the board gave Jobs a $90 million Gulfstream V jet -- and agreed to pay Jobs for the cost of operating it. In 2007, that cost came to $776,000.

4: Robert Stevens

Peace on earth and good will toward everybody. But not too soon. That may be the motto this holiday season for Lockheed Martin, the world's biggest military contractor. Under CEO Robert Stevens, the company's profit margins have nearly doubled, thanks in no small part to a 72 percent hike in U.S. defense outlays, after inflation, since the year 2000.

And the future looks equally bright, even with the war in Iraq winding down. Lockheed Martin, the 57-year-old Stevens noted last month, sees nothing but " continuous expansion" in its military hardware sales overseas. These sales can deliver sky-high returns, industry analysts point out, because U.S. taxpayers have already footed the bill for the hardware's R&D.

Still, Stevens isn't putting all his eggs in one basket. Lockheed Martin, he said last week, remains totally "unconstrained" by the credit crisis and is now investigating making corporate acquisitions in other fields -- like health care.

The CEO's personal financial health remains quite robust. Stevens pulled in $26 million last year. The most highly decorated general in the U.S. armed services would have to work over 130 years to make that much.

3: Larry Ellison

No state may be suffering from the bursting of the housing bubble more than California -- and no Californian may be benefiting from that bursting more than billionaire Larry Ellison, the Oracle business software chief exec who currently occupies the three-spot on the latest Forbes list of America's 400 richest.

Ellison spent nine years and $200 million building a lavish Northern California residential estate -- in the flamboyant style of a 16th century Japanese emperor. In 2005, San Mateo County officials assessed the 23-acre property at $166.3 million. Ellison balked. A more accurate appraisal, his lawyers claimed, would run about $100 million less.

Early this spring, the San Mateo assessment appeals board came down on the side of Ellison's lawyers. That decision handed Ellison a $3 million tax refund.

 
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