HIGHTOWER: CEOs Getting Rich at Your Expense

You've heard the reports of how corporate executives are getting fatter than butcher's dogs -- for example, IBM's top dog grabbed $336 million last year, and the boss of The Gap hauled off $495 million in personal pay, which is almost $10 million a week!The issue here is not that a few people are making tons of money. Indeed, I'm in favor of people making money. Rather, the issue is disparity and plain old fairness. Our economy is humming -- worker productivity is up, output is greater than ever, corporate profits have set records, stock prices are through the roof, and more wealth is being generated than ever before. This enormous economic gain was not created by a handful of CEOs. Our entire society pitched in to create it -- workers, family farmers, teachers and, yes, governments. But only the top strata of society have pocketed the gain. The average American worker is putting in longer hours, producing more, and enduring greater stress, yet the average weekly wage was 12 percent less last year than it was 25 years ago!One big reason for this disparity is that, in the convoluted financial system of the corporate structure, the boss has a powerful incentive to fire masses of workers periodically. In the trendy way CEOs now get their salaries "enhanced," they are given stock in the company each year, which they can cash in as the price of that stock rises. The fastest way to goose-up stock prices is to fire a few thousand workers in one whack. Wall Street brokers and speculators love to see a CEO cut corporate costs like this, and they usually reward such dramatic action by bidding up the price of the stock ... which means the CEO can cash in for a killing.This is Jim Hightower saying ... This system destroys employee morale and actually undermines the strength of the corporation for a decade -- but the CEOs don't care, for they'll have descended onto a golf course with a golden parachute by then.

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