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Presenting the Ten Greediest Americans of 2011

You don't have to make a million to rate as an all-star greedster. You do have to be ruthless, self-absorbed and grossly insensitive.

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Duke’s total $18.7 million paycheck for the year would represent 750 times the annual pay of a Wal-Mart worker making $12 an hour, working 40 hours a week.

Some 75 percent of Wal-Mart workers make less than $12 an hour, notes a  new report on Wal-Mart’s business model, and few Wal-Mart workers get 40 hours.

8. Robert Iger: Impersonating Uncle Walt

Imagine if you could live in “the happiest place on earth.” Even better, imagine you ran it! Then you’d be Robert Iger, the CEO of the Disney entertainment empire.

Iger became Disney’s numero uno back in 2005, and this year has been one of his best. In January, Disney announced that Iger’s latest annual compensation  topped $28 million, a neat 35 percent increase over the year before.

In October, Iger  picked up a new pay deal that extends his CEO contract into 2015 and adds on a cushy final year as Disney “executive chairman” — at $2.5 million — to help him make the transition into fantasyland retirement.

Not enough to make you happy? How about this: This fall Iger became the newest member of the Apple computer board of directors. He’ll  get a six-figure tip for the gig, plus a free copy of any new Apple product he wants. Happy, happy, happy.

Unfortunately, some housekeepers who work at the hotels in Disneyland have been raining on Bob Iger’s Disney parade. They went almost four years without a contract because they refused to accept Disney demands  they feared would force them to pay hundreds of dollars a year extra for health care.

These spoilsport housekeepers  testified earlier this year at a community forum that made poor Bob Iger seem the reincarnation of Uncle Scrooge McDuck. The original Walt Disney, the hotel workers union  pointed out, made 108 times what his housekeepers were making in 1966. Iger now makes 781 times as much.

Those housekeepers just don’t understand. Uncle Walt could always whip out a pencil and draw Mickey Mouse when he wanted to feel happy. Robert Iger can only count his money.

Iger may now have to be content with a teeny bit less. Disney officials and hotel workers finally  agreed on a new contract the first week in December.

7. Doug Oberhelman: Threatening an Exit

Lawmakers in Illinois, early in 2011, modestly raised their state’s corporate income tax rate to help fill a gaping state budget shortfall. That modest hike soon had the CEO at the Peoria-based Caterpillar strongly “suggesting” that his Fortune 500 firm might have to exit the state.

Mused Caterpillar chief exec Doug Oberhelman: “I have to do what’s right for Caterpillar.”

And maybe himself, too. In 2009, a year that saw only three U.S. corporations lay off more workers than Caterpillar, Oberhelman took home just under $3 million. His last year’s  paycheck: $10.4 million.

Caterpillar workers, meanwhile, have a new six-year contract that, one news report  notes, includes no wage raises and a big boost in health care premiums.

Caterpillar seems to exploit tax loopholes as systematically as employees. From 2004 to 2009, the company  paid in Illinois income tax only 1.04 percent of its $30.4 billion in earnings.

6. William Weldon: Seeing No Evil

Contact lenses. Hip implants. Over-the-counter children’s medicines. You name it, Johnson & Johnson — the world’s second-largest health care products company — has recalled it over the past three years.

That’s one reason J&J sales have failed to increase the past two years — for the  first time since the Great Depression. Jobs at J&J have fallen, too. The company has announced nearly 10,000 layoffs since 2004, the Institute for Policy Studies  reports, despite $49.6 billion in profits the last three years alone.

 
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