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Employment

Fat Cat Pay Roils Readers

Tales of execs making off with millions while employees get laid off in the thousands, often with modest severance packages, is hardening attitudes among Light Reading users, according to this month's Work Poll on Fat Cat Pay

No less than 40 percent of the 390 respondents answering the poll agree with a statement that reads: “We're heading for a revolution if nothing is done about curbing the excesses of capitalism."

Forty-seven percent say that only a few of the top executives out there deserve the hefty paychecks they earn, while 22 percent say that none of them deserve it. When it comes to severance packages, readers seem to be even more hardnosed. Sixty-three percent say that no executive deserves a huge severance package when he quits or gets fired.

Light Reading readers are also fed up with investment bankers, especially Wall Street analysts (see
Poll: Wall St. Research Panned). Eighty-eight percent say that no one working for an investment bank deserves a multimillion-dollar bonus.

This response isn’t too surprising in light of all the news surrounding highly publicized analysts like Jack Grubman from Salomon Smith Barney. During the boom years, Grubman made as much as $20 million a year including his salary and bonuses from the firm. When he resigned a few weeks back, it was reported that he got a severance package worth $32 million (see Jack Grubman Goes). The company allegedly also agreed to forgive a five-year loan it made to him in 1998, worth $19 million.

The vast majority, about 95 percent of those polled, seem to agree that shareholders are the ones who need to hold companies accountable for how much their executives are paid. Only 40 percent say the government needs to start laying down the law for change.

Even though people seem to be ready for a change, they still seem to be holding fast to their capitalist ideals. Only 20 percent of respondents think no one should earn more than $1 million a year. However, 46 percent weren't comfortable with anybody earning more than $10 million a year.

While this poll isn't scientific, it does point out the growing frustration that many people feel at the excessive amounts of money doled out to executives and analysts. It also indicates that most people still cling to free-market ideals: They expect investors to fix the problem, not governments.

To take the poll and view the latest results, click here.

— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com

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