The Pain of Great Wealth

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.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.