As we’re learning the hard way, CEOs are not quite the brilliant cockadoodledoos they wanted you and me to think they were.
To be fair, however, let’s admit that the top honchos are astonishingly creative and bold, in one special aspect of big business leadership: goosing up their own paychecks. Yeah, yeah, I know that the salary and bonuses of corporate chieftains actually dropped 6 percent last year, now averaging a mere $10 million. But, hey, these people are nothing if not clever, so while their pay sagged, they quietly reached into the goodie bag and increased the number and value of perks they receive by 7 percent.
The Associated Press surveyed some 300 major corporations and found that the median value of such executive perks as chauffeured limousines, free personal use of the corporate jet, and memberships in exclusive clubs rose to $170,000 last year. That’s more than three times the income of most families!
And chauffeurs and jets turn out to be the least of it. Take Ray Irani, CEO of Occidental Petroleum. Not only was he paid $30 million last year, but he also was given $400,000 to cover the cost of his financial planners. An Occidental spokesperson explained that this perk was beneficial to the corporation because it helped Irani “keep his complete attention on the company’s business.” What, is Irani so flighty that he can’t focus on his job without worrying about his personal money? Maybe so, but – come on – with a $30 million paycheck, couldn’t he afford to cover the financial planners out of his own pocket?
Meanwhile, some corporations are concerned that these pricey and princely bennies look bad to the public. Not to worry, though – another executive perk that’s increasingly popular with CEOs can handle that problem: bodyguards.
Are any of you aware of how much water you use every time you sit down for dinner? Well, me neither, until I read “When the River Runs Dry” by Fred Pearce. Here is a partial list of that:
One portion of rice= = 25 gallons, two pieces of toast = 40 gallons, two egg omelet or small salad = 130 gallons, glass of milk = 265 gallons, one serving of ice cream = 400 gallons, one pork chop – 530 gallons, one hamburger = 800 gallons, one steak = 1320 gallons, cup of coffee = 37 gallons, one teaspoon of sugar = 50 gallons.
All that water, and little that can be done to recoup it. Hydroponics has come a long way, but feeding millions using that method is just not practical. The grain glut on the world market is a problem that can be addressed, though. For every pound of wheat we export, we are exporting 130 gallons of virtual water. That is what it takes to grow that pound of wheat. And we lead the world in exporting virtual water, make no mistake about that.
All that means we have to do a much better job of conserving the one precious resource we can’t live without. Take the Ogallala aquifer, that vast underground storage system spread beneath eight states. The aquifer leading water experts say if no water was drawn from any more, it would take two thousand years to replenish. That same aquifer T Boone Pickens wants to own so he can sell its water to Dallas/Fort Worth. One day, if the powers that be don’t realize the importance of the aquifer for all eight states, it could run dry. If that happens, God help us all. The following is a link to a map showing the declining water level in the aquifer. I might add the map is fourteen years old, so water levels are even less today.
What’s happening? Do you have everything ready for a relaxing Sunday? Is this a working day for you?