Pensions up for Greedy Weasels

With the country experiencing record levels of unemployment this Wall Street Journal article titled Pensions for Executives on Rise (Arcane Techniques, Generous Formulas Boost Payouts as Share Prices Fall) caught my attention. Here are a few clips from it:
Pensions for top executives rose an average of 19% in 2008, with more than 200 executives seeing pensions increase more than 50%, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.
Executive pensions rose even as the share prices at the companies declined an average of 37% in 2008 and many firms froze employee pensions and suspended retirement-plan contributions.
The article goes on to detail the great deals of execs at Merck, Connoco Phillips, Exxon Mobil and other benevolent entities. I know that some folks feel that corporate executives are entitled to lavish benefits like these pensions.. heck.. folks in our congress get great lifetime pensions after just a few years of "service".. but I mean really.. what is it going to take to change the executive weasel compensation culture in Corporate America?

And in a related NY Times article titled 23 Private College Presidents Made More Than $1 Million reported "The presidents of the nation’s major private research universities were paid a median compensation of $627,750 in the 2007-8 fiscal year — a 5.5 percent increase from the previous year".. hmmm.. a few academic weasels?


  1. But do we know that these people are greedy? Just because someone has a very high income does it make that person greedy?

    Would you describe Bill Gates or Warren Buffett as greedy? I certainly wouldn't--they have given more money to charities and people in need than I can fathom.

    I think we need to be careful not to assume that a large salary equals greed. On the contrary, the wealthiest people I know are able to be the most generous.


  2. Perhaps the best people to comment on the extent of the executive greed are the folks that have lost their jobs and pensions while executives at their companies get outrageous pension raises (some 50%).

    I do not argue that some like Gates are philanthropists.. of course I think (I could be wrong) Microsoft shared the wealth with their employees.. maybe charity begins at your corporate home?

  3. Yes, Bill Gates has been "generous" if you call giving away money that you couldn't possibly spend in 100 lifetimes generous. One can only consume so much.

    However, I wouldn't classify someone who takes a large salary as necessarily greedy. I know when I was in the corporate world I would have taken as much compensation as someone was willing to pay to me. The questions is "How much is enough?" and it's difficult to answer that for someone else. The real problem with corporate America is the disconnect between the owners (largely anonymous shareholder) and the mercenary executives the boards hire. The boards are made up of executives from other company who conspire to split up the shareholders' wealth. Wait... maybe they are weasels.

    I don't know how to fix this problem. Between mutual funds and 401ks most people who invest in companies aren't even aware of what they own much less how to vote their shares to take back some power.

  4. Great points Brian!

    Corporate Weasels are mercenary CEOs of other companies (aka board of directors) that support the pension raises of other mercenary CEOs. So the executive is not a weasel for his own company but a weasel for the company of another executive :)

  5. Bob, of course they have to have a 50% increase. It is a pre-emptive COLA increase. These execs know that in a few years they will get no increase and their money will be worth less, so they give themselves more money to purchase assets while they can.


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