One of the loudest cries of big business, in their tort reform campaign, is that of limiting the fees of contingent fee tort lawyers. Big business talks about the "greedy trial lawyers" and "outrageous fees" they want to limit to an amount which would effectively close the court house doors to injured citizens. So what about their own salaries?
We have seen as common place, big corporations giving a wink and a nod to golden parachutes for departing CEO’s even when they have done an incompetent job. (See Another Golden Parachute for A CEO 1/3/07). Not only that, but Industry and the Republican Party also close their eyes to overpaid executives. According to the Wall Street Journal (1/25/07), Merrill Lynch & Company paid its CEO, Stan O’Neal, $48 Million dollars in 2006. That’s a 30% increase over 2005. But it ranks as only the second highest payment to a CEO. Goldman Sachs Group’s CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, takes the honors with a mind boggling salary of $54 Million. Not bad for a year’s work. However, Merrill Lynch’s CEO, O’Neal, isn’t alone in the big salary payment at corporate headquarters. One Merrill Executive Vice President was paid $37 Million, a second Vice President $23 Million and the Chief Administrative Officer $30 Million. At Morgan Stanley, CEO John Mack was paid $41 Million and at Bear Stearns, CEO James Cayne was paid $33 Million. Not only are these obscene salaries an affront in comparison to salaries paid workers, they are an offense to the stockholders as well. They also clearly illustrate the total hypocrisy of giant corporations and their tort reform agenda to cut fees to contingent fees lawyers in order to make justice for the ordinary citizen inaccessible.