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The 10 Greediest People of 2008

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posted on Dec, 24 2008 @ 10:12 AM
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year by Sam Pizzigati
Sam Pizzigati is the editor of the online weekly Too Much, and an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

This time of year always seems to bring a never-ending barrage of "top ten" lists. The year's top ten movies, the top ten books, the top ten news stories, and on and on. Here at Too Much we've decided to join in on the action -- with our very own list of America's top ten greediest.


In the end, we came to realize, the size of the fortune alone doesn't determine greed. It's the thought that counts. In that holiday spirit, we hope you find our top ten greedy list of some interest -- and greed-busting inspiration.

The 10 Greediest People of 2008

1. Richard Gilman
Reviving memories of the Great Depression-era "sit-down" strikes, they occupied the plant -- and captured America's imagination. The sit-down forced Gilman and his money pot, the Bank of America, to the bargaining table where a settlement soon took shape. But Gilman suddenly threw a monkey-wrench into the works -- and gained a slot for himself in this year's top ten greediest. Gilman demanded that "any new bank loan to help the employees also cover" the lease of his Mercedes and BMW and eight weeks of his $225,000 salary.

2. John Thain
Merrill Lynch, Thain apparently believed, had been fixed, and, early this December, he let it be known that he expected up to $10 million in new bonus for his efforts -- despite Merrill's $12 billion in 2008 losses and a pending layoff of as much as a fifth of the firm's workforce. On top of all that, Merrill's new sugardaddy, Bank of America, was taking $25 billion in taxpayer bailout dollars.

3. Larry Ellison
Early this spring, the San Mateo assessment appeals board came down on the side of Ellison's lawyers. That decision handed Ellison a $3 million tax refund. Local public schools are now bearing about half the burden that refund has generated. In future years, Ellison's tax discount will cost Portola Valley schools an annual $250,000 or so, the cost of hiring and supplying three teachers.

4. Robert Stevens
Peace on earth and good will toward everybody. But not too soon. That may be the motto this holiday season for Lockheed Martin, the world's biggest military contractor. Under CEO Robert Stevens, the company's profit margins have nearly doubled, thanks in no small part to a 72 percent hike in U.S. defense outlays, after inflation, since the year 2000.

5. Steve Jobs
In 2008, once again, the most notable executive in America's $1-a-year CEO club remained Steve Jobs, the chief exec at Apple Computer. Jobs has been collecting a mere $1 in annual salary ever since 1997. He has, to be sure, been collecting a few other rewards as well. He entered 2008 with about 5.5 million shares of Apple stock and a net worth not too far south of $6 billion.

6. Ralph Roberts
On January 1, 2008, the Comcast cable TV empire put into effect the ultimate in executive incentive pay plans: a new deal that guaranteed the company's founder and executive committee chair, Ralph Roberts, $1.85 million in basic annual salary for five years after he dies, with the after-death payout going to whoever Roberts names as his beneficiary.

7. James Mulva
Few have enjoyed more rewards for that success than the 62-year-old Mulva. He reaped a $50.5 million personal payoff in 2007, according to federal Securities and Exchange Commission figures. He'll be collecting, when he retires, at least a $2.6 million annual pension.

8. Richard Baker
What led the 60-year-old Baker, a lawmaker since the age of 23, to give up his life of public service? Maybe the private gain. As the hedge fund trade group chief, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported earlier this year, Baker would be taking home a $1 million annual salary and benefits package.

9. Patrick Soon-Shiong
Soon-Shiong came into 2008 as the chief executive of APP Pharmaceuticals. He stepped down as CEO in the spring, but the former surgeon still held 83 percent of the company's shares. In July, he agreed to sell APP to a German firm. The sale finalized two months later for an initial $3.7 billion cash payment.

10. Dwight Schar
The chair of homebuilding giant NVR Inc. The 66-year-old Schar has cleared $625 million since 2002. In 2004, he spent a good chunk of that buying an ocean-facing mansion in Florida's Palm Beach for $70 million, the highest price up to then ever paid for a U.S. residential property. The seven-bedroom home came with a walk-in humidor for cigars.

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