Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 8:57 pm

Why people want to see free markets dangling by the neck from the nearest lamppost

Filed under: Evil — Lex @ 8:57 pm
Tags: , , ,


Tribune Co. proposed paying its top 43 executives a severance package of cash and benefits if they are asked by a new board to leave the company after the Chicago-based media conglomerate emerges from bankruptcy.

The company didn’t put a price tag on the package, but said it amounts to 2.5 times salary and bonus for Chief Executive Randy Michaels, and 2.25 times salary and bonus for Chief Operating Officer Gerry Spector. Both would be entitled to 24 months of the company’s group health benefits.

Nine other top executives, including Tony Hunter, the publisher of the Chicago Tribune, and Eddy Hartenstein, publisher of the Los Angeles Times, would get 1.75 times salary and bonus plus 24 months of benefits. A list of 32 others would get 1.5 times salary and 18 months of benefits.

This is particularly outrageous to me because I devoted 25 years of my life to newspapers and because I can quantify some of the opportunity costs the community incurs when this kind of thing happens in the newspaper business. For example, the amount of money we’re talking about here will run into the tens of millions. I suspect that’d be enough to buy the Greensboro News & Record and still have plenty left over for some reasonably high living. Or, looked at another way, that money could keep a fairly good-sized newspaper fully staffed for years without any other source of revenue.

But this episode is in other ways no different from what happens every year at many, many other large corporations in all kinds of industries in this country. Stockholders’ money is wasted, jobs — and, in many cases, workers’ lives — are destroyed, the rich get richer, and God forbid you suggest any kind of government help for people who have the unmitigated gall to remain unemployed in an economy in which there are four workers for every job of any kind. ‘Cause that’s socialism, and by God, that’s un-American.

Well, considering what passes for “American” in the U.S. economic and legal system, I’m starting to wonder whether an invasion wouldn’t be a bad idea.

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