True April Fools

Written by Nexcerpt on April 2nd, 2011 in Patterns & News.
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These are not April Fools pranks! There certainly are pranks here, but nothing funny. All these news articles about massive wealth appeared within a few hours of April First. Considering the deviltry they describe, and the terror such corporate devils sew — and will one day reap — this news would be more fitting on Halloween.

From USA Today — nine minutes early to be a joke (31 Mar 2011, 11:51 PM) — CEO pay soars while workers’ pay stalls

At a time most employees can barely remember their last substantial raise, median CEO pay jumped 27% in 2010 as the executives’ compensation started working its way back to prerecession levels, a USA TODAY analysis of data from GovernanceMetrics International found. Workers in private industry, meanwhile, saw their compensation grow just 2.1% in the 12 months ended December 2010, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

CEOs received a median of $2.2 million from bonuses, up 47% from $1.5 million in 2009. And that comes on top of a healthy 7% boost to the median salary, which is now $1.1 million.

In case you don’t have time to look at the 2010 CEO pay chart, Philippe Dauman of Viacom topped the list, with a salary of $2,625,000, plus bonus of $11,250,000, plus stock options of $70,453,309, for a total of $84,469,515.

That’s $9,642.64 per hour — for every one of the 24 hours of every one of the 365 days.

From the Financial Times (three hours late for the big day, 02 Apr 2011 03:04) Transocean awards bonuses ‘for safety’ in 2010

Transocean, the world’s largest offshore rig company, awarded its executives bonuses for 2010, citing “the best year in safety performance in our company’s history,” in spite of the Macondo disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a regulatory filing.

Notwithstanding the tragic loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico, we achieved an exemplary statistical safety record as measured by our total recordable incident rate and total potential severity rate,” Transocean said in a filing.

The company approved base salary adjustments averaging a 3.8 per cent increase per individual, excluding the chief executive, whose base salary reflected his promotion into the CEO role…

The Committee determined that the cash performance awards made to the named executive officers for 2010 were appropriate in recognition of the company’s achievement of the objectives set at the beginning of 2010 relating to significantly improving the company’s safety record and the successful implementation of our enterprise resource planning system,” Transocean said.

Common Dreams was a full day early, where (summarizing three years of data on corporate taxes from Pay Up Now) Paul Buchheit wrote: Corporations at Tax Time: Who’s Good, Who’s Bad, and Who’s Very Ugly:

Kraft Foods and Coca Cola paid less than 10% in taxes over the three-year period. Chevron paid 5%. Hewlett-Packard 3%. IBM 2%. Exxon 2%. Carnival 1%.

Boeing and DuPont and Dow Chemical and Verizon all made profits three years in a row, but all received net refunds for the three-year period. The ugliest result comes from General Electric, which made pre-tax profits of $44 billion over three years but received almost $5 billion in refunds! So ugly, indeed, that the company buried its tax benefit (refund) strategy in a nondescript passage near the end of its 10-K.

The top 100 companies, with $5 trillion in 2010 revenue and $500 billion in pre-tax earnings, paid less than 10% last year in non-deferred federal taxes. If these 100 companies had paid the 35% tax designated by U.S. tax law, an additional $140 billion would have been collected in federal taxes in just one year. This is approximately equal to the total budget deficits for all 50 states.

How can this happen? How can any of this be allowed, let alone encouraged?

At Vanity Fair, Joseph E. Stiglitz analyzes why and how such insanity persists: Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

In recent weeks we have watched people taking to the streets by the millions to protest political, economic, and social conditions in the oppressive societies they inhabit. Governments have been toppled in Egypt and Tunisia. Protests have erupted in Libya, Yemen, and Bahrain. The ruling families elsewhere in the region look on nervously from their air-conditioned penthouses—will they be next? They are right to worry…

As we gaze out at the popular fervor in the streets, one question to ask ourselves is this: When will it come to America?

When, indeed.

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