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Thursday, May 5, 2005 11:22 pm

common sense 5-5-05

art2039

Think you’re the only one who’s having a rough time in today’s economy, bucko? It’s time you started thinking about someone else — such as the rich.

Yeah, the rich. Too few Americans consider the hardships of those at the top.

Yeah, yeah, we hear you working stiffs whining all the time about how your paychecks aren’t even keeping up with inflation, but stop for a moment and think about the opposite problem. CEOs, for example, already weighted down with personal wealth, have just had another load dumped on them. The pay of the top corporate executives rose by 12.6 percent last year, averaging nearly $10 million each. And that doesn’t include their stock payments, which can easily double the weight of their total sack.

Look at the burden of E. Stanley O’Neal, big dog at Merrill Lynch. In addition to his salary and bonus, he was given $31 million worth of corporate stock payments. Come on — that’s piling on the poor guy! Or Richard Kovacevich at Wells Fargo, who had to shoulder not only a $7.5 million bonus but also stock payments of $20 million. Imagine having to haul that load home.

It would be next to impossible for these guys to bear up under such a load, except that, luckily, they’re given chauffeured limousines to carry it away. There are also the golf-club memberships, the corporate retreat in the South Pacific, the daily rubdown by the executive-suite masseuse, and other free perks to help make the burden tolerable. It’s a mighty hard row to hoe, but someone has to do it.

So when you see the elites floating away in their yachts while you’re barely treading water, before you get angry, take a moment to feel their pain.

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