You get what you reward.
A new report concludes that chief executives of the 50 firms that have laid off the most workers since the onset of the economic crisis in 2008 took home 42 percent more pay in 2009 than their peers at other large U.S. companies.
The report, from the Institute of Policy Studies, found that the 50 layoff leaders received $12 million on average in 2009, compared with an average compensation of $8.5 million for chief executives of companies in Standard & Poor's 500. Each of the 50 companies examined in the report laid off at least 3,000 workers between November 2008 and April 2010.
So wrote the Associated Press on Wednesday. A quick check of GoogleNews shows that the online mainstream media yawned. Why?
Why is this not news? And why are the Boards of Directors and stockholders mum?
- Schering-Plough CEO Fred Hassan: layoffs, 16,000; compensation, $33 million "golden parachute" plus 2009 compensation of almost $50 million
- Johnson & Johnson CEO William Weldon: layoffs, 9,000; compensation, $25.6 million, a figure more than three times that of the average "big U.S. company" CEO
- Hewlett-Packard CEO HP Mark Hurd (just resigned): layoffs, 6,400 jobs in 2009; compensation, $24.2 million
- American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault: layoffs, 4,000; compensation, $16.8 million + company received taxpayer-funded bailout
But there's more -- and I bet you didn't read it in your local paper or hear on TV news (local or national):
American workers, by contrast, are taking home less in real weekly wages than they took home in the 1970s. Back in those years, precious few top executives made over 30 times what their workers made. In 2009, we calculate in the 17th annual Executive Excess, CEOs of major U.S. corporations averaged 263 times the average compensation of American workers.
One more stat to put this executive excess in context:
The $598 million combined compensation of the top 50 CEO layoff leaders could provide average unemployment benefits to 37,759 workers for an entire year — or nearly a month of benefits for each of the 531,363 workers their companies laid off.
These are the people that the Democrats are afraid of offending, so they are going to make the Bush tax cuts permanent.
And they'll wonder why voters kick them out of office in November.