Getting A Grip On Ceo Greed

To think that greed is simply greed misses the nuances of avarice.

There is, for example,the greed of corporate lobbyists lunging for taxpayers' money in the wake of September 11. Then there is the trickier greed of the Enroners, and who locked employees into the declining company's stock while the CEO was secretly dumping his. There is also the evasive greed of Stanley tool company and others that create offshore accounts in Bermuda and Barbados to dodge their share of taxes to support our country.

But now comes "Greedus Maximus" in the form of a group called the Business Roundtable. This outfit presents itself as the enlightened business community. Made up of the CEOs of the largest 200 corporations in the U.S., this "enlightened" elite has recently drawn a policy line in the sand--not to protect the public interest, but to save the financial butts of the Roundtable's CEOs themselves.

These executives have sacked up gabillions of dollars in the past decade in off-the-books paychecks called "stock options." Under this scam, top executives get paid a kings' ransom, but the corporations' bookkeepers hide these payouts from investors, employees, and the public, claiming that these millions technically are not expenses--even though this is real money paid from the business. The result is that hundreds-of-millions of dollars that could be invested in productive ventures are instead being siphoned into the already well-stuffed pockets of the executives.

Even the New York Stock Exchange has recently come out to say that these payouts to executives are, after all, stockholders' money and, therefore, ought not be paid unless voted on by the stockholders. But CEOs despise corporate democracy, so the Roundtable is now pressuring the stock exchange to step away from applying even this small brake to runaway CEO greed.

This is Jim Hightower saying...To help get a grip on such greed, call the Council of Institutional Investors at 202-822-0800.


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