We've heard alot during the past year about how many companies are eliminating the hefty bonuses of executives. Some businesses have even cut salaries. But some "Captains of industry" are still breaking the bank, even as their corporate ships struggle to stay afloat.
The Associated Press just came out with an excellent multi-media project on CEO pay. The AP reports Aubrey McClendon, the Chairman and CEO of Chesapeake Energy Corp., earned $112 million last year, a whopping 342% increase from 2007. That included a stunning $77 million bonus. The second highest paid CEO on the list is Sanjay Jha, CEO of Motorola, who received $104 million.
The top earners in the Midwest include Gregory Boyce, the CEO and President of St. Louis-based Peabody Energy. Boyce earned $7.4 million, a 15% increase over 2007. Peabody's stock was pounded last year, down more than 60%. However, to be fair to Boyce, Peabody nearly tripled its revenue in 2007, a stunning increase. So, while shareholders, including executives like Boyce, took a beating on their stock, the company significantly increased its business. It'll be interesting to see how the company responds once the economic problems are behind us.
I've always been more than a little cynical about executive pay. Frankly, I think it's outragious in many cases. I understand that many executives are very intelligent, hard-working people who often spend an extraordinary amount of hours on the job. However, the gap between CEO pay and the average worker has widened dramatically over the years, and workers seem to bear the brunt of failed businesses more often than the "Captains" behind the wheel.
If that doesn't change when the economy recovers, businesses will have failed to learn important lessons about accountability and its impact on workers and the market.