Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Platinum Parachute

If you want to know what's wrong with our economic system, a story I just saw on the noonday news is oh so typical. An executive with Merrill Lynch, Peter Krause, was paid a whopping $25 million for 3 months work. He's used these proceeds to purchase a $37 million apartment on Park Avenue in New York City.

Of course, there's absolutely nothing illegal about this (as far as anyone knows). He was paid according to the terms of his contract. The honchos at Merrill Lynch agreed to these terms and so he got his money.

I suppose an argument could be made that, were Merrill Lynch flying high, he had earned every single penny. But that's a difficult argument to make when you know the company was doing so poorly that it allowed itself to be purchase to avoid bankruptcy. So, it does beg the question: What did this fellow do in three months that warranted a $25 million paycheck?

Regardless of the legality of the contract, it's a public relations disaster. Not only does it make him look like a greedy you-know-what, but it makes Merrill Lynch look like fiscal imbeciles!! No wonder they were one step away from going under.

For me though, the worst part of this story is the obvious disconnect between the reality of everyday working families and the world of high finance. Average Joes and Janes are losing their health care, pensions, homes and jobs during this severe economic downturn, yet it seems to be business as usual for the fat cats.

Even worse is that they are cavalierly throwing around OUR money.

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