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The 10 Greediest Americans of 2011

| December 17, 2011

Gordon Gekko's dad.

By Sam Pizzigati

10. Michael T. Duke, Wal-Mart CEO
Duke takes home his millions — $18.7 million in the company’s latest fiscal year — by squeezing workers. He ended “premium pay” for the hours Wal-Mart workers have to put in on Sundays, eliminated profit-sharing, sheared health care benefits, and cut staffing levels so low, Retailing Today reports, that customers sometimes can’t find shopping carts because the store where they’re shopping has no employees available to collect carts from the parking lot.

9. Paul Hoolahan, Sugar Bowl CEO
The Sugar Bowl, one of college football’s top four postseason games, enjoys tax-exempt status and regularly touts its contributions to good causes. But Hoolahan’s favorite cause may be his own. He took home just under $600,000 in 2009, almost quadruple his $160,500 paycheck for the same job 13 years earlier. Meanwhile, the Sugar Bowl and its three “Bowl Championship Series” partners are contributing to charity only 20 cents from every $10 in revenue, the Arizona Republic reports.

8. Robert Iger, Disney CEO
His annual compensation topped $28 million last year, a neat 35-percent increase. In October, Iger picked up a new pay deal that extends his CEO contract into 2015 and then adds on a cushy final year as Disney’s “executive chairman” — at $2.5 million — to help him make the transition into retirement.

7. Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar CEO
In 2009, a year that saw only three U.S. corporations lay off more workers than Caterpillar, its CEO took home just under $3 million. His 2010 paycheck soared to $10.4 million. Caterpillar workers, meanwhile, have a new six-year contract that excludes wage increases and raises health care premiums.

6. William Weldon, Johnson & Johnson CEO
Weldon “restructured” this health care giant in 2007, slashing its quality-control program. For the next two years, a hiring freeze made replacing vacant quality positions almost impossible. In 2009, a flood of recalls began for company products from contact lenses to hip implants, but Weldon took home $25.6 million anyway. After those recalls and assorted other scandals, the company did finally trim his annual pay — to $23.2 million.

5. Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs CEO
In 2007, on the eve of the meltdown banks like Goldman did so much to hasten, Blankfein collected a $68-million bonus, the largest in Wall Street history. In 2011, Blankfein had a chance to hit the restart button. He didn’t. In April, Goldman Sachs revealed that Blankfein, after going two years without a cash bonus, had gobbled up $5.4 million in bonus cash for the bank’s latest fiscal year. And plenty more in stock and salary. His total pay: $19 million, about double his pay the year before.

4. Alan Mulally, Ford Motor CEO
After losing $30 billion over three years, Ford has gained back $9.3 billion. In reward, Ford handed Mulally $56.5 million in stock and then, a month later, announced that he pulled down an additional $26.5 million last year. That amounted to 910 times the pay of entry-level Ford workers.

3. Larry Ellison, Oracle CEO
The top exec at business software giant Oracle collected $77.6 million for the fiscal year that ended this past May 31.That piece of change added less than two-tenths of 1 percent to Ellison’s $39.5 billion personal fortune, the world’s fifth largest.

2. Don Blankenship, Former Massey Energy CEO
West Virginia investigators found Massey management directly to blame for the 2010 blast that left 29 miners dead at the company’s Upper Big Branch coal mine. Massey, the report charged, had nurtured a “culture bent on production at the expense of safety.” That culture paid off handsomely for Blankenship. He pocketed $38.2 million from 2007 through 2009, after raking in $34 million in 2005, and retired with a $5.7-million pension and $12 million in severance.

1. Mark Pincus, Zynga CEO
High-tech start-ups like the online social gaming empire Zynga typically attract talent by offering shares of stock. But Pincus had apparently concluded, with a multi-billion-dollar IPO pending, that he had given away too many shares. Pincus demanded that various employees “give back not-yet-vested stock or face termination,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

Labor journalist Sam Pizzigati edits Too Much, the weekly Institute for Policy Studies newsletter on excess and inequality. Visit for more details about the year’s 10 greediest people.
Distributed via OtherWords (

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68 Responses for “The 10 Greediest Americans of 2011”

  1. Liana G says:

    Two stories worth reading…dark times are upon us

    …”Retired Philadelphia police captain Ray Lewis refers to the NYPD as “Wall Street mercenaries,” which is an apt title given that JPMorgan Chase made a massive $4.6 million donation to the NYPD, the largest such gift in the history of the New York City Police Foundation.

    As massive corporations buy up public space and police forces, protesters are faced with the impossible task of facing off with police who increasingly work on behalf of Wall Street, and not the American people.”…


    …”Consider the two major political parties. The Democratic Party of today responds to interest groups like the trial lawyers and the unions, but its leaders no longer have any real connection to average Americans. Instead, they turn a blind eye to the vital need for fiscal reform; one could hardly be blamed for suspecting that, in their hearts, they subscribe to Keynes’ dictum that “in the long run we are all dead.” But Keynes had no children. In reality, when we are gone, our children and grandchildren will be left with an almost inconceivable amount of debt.

    The Republican Party wants to solve the fiscal crisis by “reforming” key components of the welfare state such as Medicare and Social Security. Its conception as regards the former amounts to abolition, despite the fact that very few Americans of retirement age can afford private health insurance. Indeed, Medicare was created in large part because elderly Americans simply could not obtain private insurance. But Republican austerity plans are bound to fail in any case. The elderly, who would be most affected by cuts in entitlements, not only constitute a very large voting bloc, but go to the polls in big numbers. In American terms, austerity is a cul-de-sac.[...]

    ““Resource wars” between states (over water, for example) may occur, or states may use war as a means of deflecting internal discontent outwards. But the greatest danger is perhaps violence within states, with the desperate masses striking out against the ruling class and the state apparatus. The state in turn, if it chooses to fight (and most states do), would then unleash its full power upon its own citizens, as happened in China in 1989; as is happening in Syria now [as is happening in America with the OWS movement]. States in disarray rarely roll over and die; the Soviet experience stands almost alone in history. Moreover, in an era lacking a relatively benign hegemon (and we are almost certainly entering such an era, as the United States’ economic decline brings with it a retreat from global responsibilities), violence both within and between states inevitably increases. The period 1914-1945 is instructive; so too is the epoch of Rome’s decline.”


    • Oneofthe10%whovoted says:

      Good article, but what I think it means is that we’re broke. So why are they so busy spending more? These people ALL belong in jail. We may not be able to put them there. But we sure as hell can put them in the unemployment line with the rest of us.


  2. palmcoaster says:

    Merry Christmas to you too, “those brave and adventurous Palm Coast Pioneers that have all my respect and admiration for being the first ones to buy from ITT, its envisioned jewel in Central East Florida, named Palm Coast! If were not for you all, probably I would not be here now and trying to do my best, to preserve this harshly embattled jewel still. Meanwhile, have some Happy Holidays you all.


  3. Liana G says:

    @ Oneofthe10%whovoted. And that makes it okay? Are you serious? Are we not supposed to learn from history so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past?


    • Oneofthe10%whovoted says:

      Liana, NONE of this is okay. None of it. Do you vote? do you realize how long these people have been in office?

      We need to take them out. That’s how you change it. You take them out, ALL OF THEM.


  4. some guy says:

    NortonSmitty says:
    December 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm
    I know poor people who give other poor people jobs, and so do you. I am one of them. But I have one guy works with me all of the time and several part timers as I need them.

    So your like walmart you have people work for you when only you need them?? Do you pay them a “living wage”?? Im not against what you do or how you do it just pointing out how some on the left want one set of rules for some and another for themself.


    • NortonSmitty says:

      Guy, I keep my one man on even if it means I take home less, sometime even if I don’t break even. He has a family. The others I use when I get the work.

      Is that OK with the Rupert Murdoch School of Economics?


  5. palmcoaster says:

    These big corporations are only to make the big dollars for investors and their CEO’s and VIP’s and will not content themselves with a little less like you and I do, in our small businesses even if our diminished sales in this pathetic economy will force, a reduction of labor hours after also we take home less revenue. They have no qualms closing down stores and leaving workers with no jobs on behalf of greed for more $$ for stock holders and millionaire compensation for their VIP’s. Scroll to the right side of the next link their annual pays:
    We should all take home less, including corporations, if our workers have to!


  6. Oneofthe10%whovoted says:

    Interesting to me that no one here blames the politicans who have been in office for decades for any of this.

    Run for office a make it a lifetime career, and the wealthiest. Take a careful look at what your politicos are worth and how long it has taken them to get there. Then take a good look at how long they’ve been in office. I’d say they are the richest and the greediest.

    Who is responsible for this mess? We are.


  7. NortonSmitty says:

    Thats as far as I’m gonna’ back off:
    Of all of the over sung ditties of right wing Limbagh/Hannity ass-music constantly regurgitated, this one pisses me off most! Of course I know poor people who give other poor people jobs, and so do you. I am one of them. But I have one guy works with me all of the time and several part timers as I need them. Look at you neighbors and I bet most of them work for small companies, and some are doing well, but around here most aren’t, but they still struggle and still hire people.

    I know who you don’t know. You don’t know any of the really rich people, the top 1% you are constantly carrying water for. They not only don’t want to know people like you, but they have security surrounding them (They are the Job Providers!) and guarding their homes and businesses so that if someone like yourself even so much as farts upwind of them they will have them arrested. Even if you are dragged away shouting “No, I watch O’reilly! I’m one of YOU!”.

    I really wish you sheep would think for yourself just once in a while instead of just repeating Fox and Republican talking points.


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