(06/17/2008)
OPINION AND COMMENT By Bob Weaver

As the American economy is sinking, earned income of the once-treasured middle class is stagnant, benefits are being eliminated, health care is not affordable, and the costs of just about everything is skyrocketing, it is noteworthy that the pay of America's CEOs is steadily increasing.

The pay increase for CEOs comes as the economy is choked by a housing market in free fall from greedy lenders, millions of jobs globalized, more layoffs for the 'working class', and soaring prices for fuel, food and manufactured products.

While most are trying to cut family budgets to have enough gas to drive to work, energy industry CEOs chalked up a median 32 percent gain in 2007.

That's not necessarily because CEOs are more skillful at operating their energy businesses.

The boon has more to do with the surge in the price of oil, which has topped $130 a barrel.

One of America's top paid executives is Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy, a company that is roaring across West Virginia with its natural gas boom.

McClendon, who created the "Coal is Filthy" PR campaign, made $116.8 million last year.

And we thought $40 million earned by Exxon/Mobil's CEO was high.

It's amazing how the 'free market' has helped these folks when America has no national energy policy.

Chesapeake was found guilty of cheating thousands of WV royalty holders, losing a $404 million law suit in Roane County, after which the state's Supreme Court declined to hear their appeal.

Chesapeake then decided to punish WV by not building their multi-million dollar headquarters in Charleston.

John Thain, who took the reins of Merrill Lynch on Dec. 1, 2007 has a super $83 million pay package.

Rick Wagoner, CEO of General Motors Corp., who just announced GM had to close four plants that make trucks and SUVs because of poor sales as fuel prices soar, his pay rose 64% to a paltry $15.7 million.

The CEO at the top of the list is Lawrence Ellison, head of Oracle, the huge database, middleware and application software company, his salary is $193 million.

A few of the several hundred big earners (not including perks): Frederic M. Poses of Trane - $127 million; Angelo R Mozilo of Countrywide Financial - $103 million; Howard Schultz, head of Starbucks - $98 million; Nabeel Gareeb of MEMC Electronic Mats -$79 million; Daniel P. Amos of Aflac - $75 million; Lloyd C Blankfein of Goldman Sachs Group -$73 million; Richard D. Fairbank of Capital One Financial - $73 million; Bob R. Simpson of XTO Energy $72 million.

Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack was paid a total of $41.7 million for 2007, a rough year for the bank.


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