George Graham

Top Executives Rake in Millions While Companies Crumble

When Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy on Monday, some 25,000 workers  were left to wonder where their next paycheck would come from. But, according to Anne-Marie Dorning of ABC News, company CEO Richard Fuld was “living large.”

fuldDorning explained that Fuld (photo at right) had been with Lehman Brothers for 39 years, acting as CEO for 15, “and like most CEOs, he could count on a healthy compensation package.” According to Forbes Magazine, Fuld raked in $354 million dollars over five years, with an annual compensation including salary and stocks “believed to be hovering in the $63 million dollar range.” That’s $63 million every year! His multimillion-dollar home in Greenwich, Conn. has 20 rooms and includes an indoor squash court. In addition to the Greenwich estate, Fuld owns an apartment at 640 Park Avenue – one of Manhattan’s most prestigious buildings.

cayneDorning said Fuld’s case is not unusual. James Cayne (photo at left), former chief executive of now-defunct Bear Stearns, regularly showed up on Forbes’ list of the 400 richest Americans. He recently purchased two adjacent apartments at the Plaza with a price tag in the neighborhood of $27 million. Under Cayne’s leadership, the company came within hours of failing, until JP Morgan Chase agreed to pay $10 a share – with the help of about $30 billion in federal credit (that’s your tax money). And Cayne has reportedly netted $60 million from sale of his Bear Stearns stock.

And what of Robert Willumstad, CEO of AIG (photo below, right), which your government just put up $85 billion to rescue? According to Business Week magazine, his minimum cash bonus for 2008 was set at $4 million in July, and his target bonus was set at $8 million. Still no word on what extra loot is stashed in his golden parachute.

willumstadThis is the class that controls Washington, folks. If that’s OK with you, stay home in November. If you are as outraged as I am, get out and vote. And don’t be fooled by John McCain’s promise to rein in Wall Street. McCain is one of them. His bosom buddy and financial adviser is Phil Gramm, the chief totem figure of the deregulation crowd.

McCain has pushed relentlessly for deregulation throughout his 26-year Senate career. He went to bat for a crook named Charles Keating Jr. when regulators tried to intervene in the shameful Savings & Loan scandal of the 1980s. He has often partied with the Wall Street crowd, sailing on their yachts, vacationing at their villas, pretending to be the champion of the working man while hobnobbing with the rich and famous. Our only hope lies in electing Barack Obama and Joe Biden. And they are going to need our votes.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for