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The Pain of Great Wealth

You think you're the only one who's having a rough time in today's economy, Bucko? It's time you started thinking about someone else ... such as the rich.
 
 
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Yeah, the rich. Too few Americans give any thought to the hardships of those at the top. Consider something as basic as the sheer physical burden of carrying all that moolah around--the backbreaking weight of their wallets and purses, for example. And it probably never occurs to you that those big diamond earrings and gold necklaces can pull you down by the end of the day.

Yeah, yeah, we hear you working stiffs whining all the time about how your paychecks aren't even keeping up with inflation, but stop for a moment and think about the opposite problem. CEOs, for example, already weighted down with personal wealth, have just had another load dumped on them. The pay of the top corporate executives rose by 12.6 percent last year, averaging nearly $10 million each. And that does not include their stock payments, which can easily double the weight of their total sack.

Look at the burden of E. Stanley O'Neal, the big dog at Merrill Lynch. In addition to his salary and bonus, he was given $31 million worth of corporate stock payments. Come on--that's piling on the poor guy! Or Richard Kovacevich at Wells Fargo, who not only had to shoulder a $7.5 million bonus, but also stock payments of $20 million. Imagine having to haul that load home.

It would be next to impossible for these guys to bear up under such a load, except that, luckily, they're given chauffeured limousines to carry it away. There are also the golf club memberships, the corporate retreat in the South Pacific, the daily rubdown by the executive-suite masseuse, and other free perks to help make the burden tolerable. It's a mighty hard row to hoe, but someone has to do it.

So when you see the elites floating away in their yachts while you're barely treading water, before you get angry, take a moment to feel their pain.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Let's Stop Beating Around the Bush, from Viking Press. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.