January 1, 2014. It’s that time of year again. Time to shine a spotlight on those who’ve spent the previous year taking from others in the greediest ways. These ten individuals have outdone all other millionaires and billionaires in amassing other people’s money any way they can over the past 12 months. And they do it by taking advantage of laws, loopholes, taxpayers, and their own employees and customers.
Larry Ellison, Oracle CEO - the #1 'Greediest person of 2013' from Too Much Online. Image courtesy of TechCrunch.com.
If this were China, or many other countries throughout Earth’s history, most of the below individuals would have already been executed for treason. But here in twenty-first century America, the American people inexplicably continue to reward, assist and protect them and the thousands more just like them. Compliments of Too Much Online, below is their annual list of the Ten Greediest People of 2013.
#10 - Pint-Sized Pilfering: Angela Spaccia
In Bell, a small Los Angeles County working class community, that modest power and authority once belonged to Angela Spaccia. As Bell's assistant city manager for a seven-year span that ended in 2010, Spaccia helped stuff hundreds of thousands of dollars into the pockets of the city’s top officials, including herself. Spaccia in one year alone took in $564,000.
“Everyone's greedy,” her defense attorney argued in November, “There's no crime in taking too much money.” Jurors disagreed. Last week, they found Spaccia guilty on multiple counts of criminal behavior, including one misappropriation of public funds designed to divert $15.5 million in pension checks to Spaccia and her boss.
#9 - Sweet Squeezer: Dylan Lauren
Dylan Lauren is the only child of billionaire designer Ralph Lauren. And as the spoiled billionaire heiress, she’s been able to craft her life and the lives of thousands of others exactly the way she wants. After watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as a child, she’s wanted to be the real-life Willy Wonka. And she’s done it, but only the wealthiest and most elite can enjoy her candy.
‘Dylan’s Candy Bar’ has opened high-priced candy bars in Upper Manhattan, Miami Beach, the Hamptons and a number of the richest neighborhoods in America. Unfortunately, the employees that staff her luxurious candy shops have been publicly protesting that she systematically keeps them earning only $8.50 per hour and that she meticulously limits employee hours to prevent them from acquiring benefits. In her New York store, workers are symbolically asking for $13.99 per hour – the cost of a single one-pound ‘Dylan’s Candy Bar’.
#8 - Low Wages all the time: Michael Duke
The Walmart CEO will probably make his final stop on this annual list as he’s retiring after this year. In his time at Walmart, Duke has been loyal to the corporation’s business model of keeping wages below poverty, putting its employees on welfare, putting American manufacturers out of business, and single-handedly lowering America’s standard of living. Analysts have calculated that for doing that, the company’s stock holders have been paying him $6,898 per hour, a bit more than the $8.86 average salary of a Walmart employee.
Michael Duke is currently sitting on $113.2 million in retirement savings, thanks to Congress. The Walmart CEO has been taking advantage of the loophole that lets corporate executives set aside millions in earnings into tax-free accounts. The Institute for Policy Studies calculates that with continuing compounded interest, Duke will be able to pay himself throughout his retirement years $669,169 per month for life. By comparison, the average Walmart employee’s 401(k) retirement plan will pay them $89 per month. Keep that in mind when Republicans talk about privatizing Social Security, because that’s what it looks like in real life.
#7 - A Backroom Bully Goes Public: Art Pope
In the run-up to the 2012 elections, Art Pope invested over $40 million of his personal wealth to gerrymander how North Carolinians cast their votes. The gerrymandering worked. This year opened with the state sporting — for the first time ever — a conservative GOP governor, Supreme Court majority, and legislature all at the same time. The state budget director? Pope himself.
One of Pope’s first acts was coercing bureaucrats and lawmakers to move on his agenda – cutting the Unemployment Benefits rate the state pays the recently unemployed and denying benefits to 170,000 people. The state also cut social benefits and transferred a portion of the state’s tax burden from the rich to the working class. Protesters have been demonstrating outside his Variety Wholesaler discount stores accusing him of only opening his stores in poor neighborhoods, profiting off the poor, and then taking away their social services.
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#6 - Lost, even with a Compass: Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook was one of ten CEO’s paid over $100 million last year. He was near the top of the list at $143.8 million. Using the same near-slave labor as most American companies, Apple has been able to gouge the American people and holds the record for the most sales revenue per square foot of any retail store in the US. Yet, Apple employees only average $25,000 per year, or roughly $12.50 per hour.
A while back, Apple’s manufacturers were caught using slave labor, literally. If forcing someone to work without paying them is slavery, then yes. The Economic Policy Institute said Apple’s manufacturing practices, “reflect some of the worst practices of the industrial era.” The company never did clean up its third world slave labor problems, but was instead sued by its US employees for non-payment of wages. Apple’s US stores force each employee to wait long amounts of time to be searched before leaving each day, without paying them for the time they’re forced to wait.
#5 - The ABCs of Avarice: Ron Packard
Packard is the CEO of K-12, Inc. - an online school much like the University of Phoenix or all the other independent online schools that have popped up with the internet. Except Packard had a more brilliant idea. Instead of competing with colleges and universities, he’s trying to put grade schools out of business and move America’s K-12 education system online to his for-profit internet schools. He’s already enrolled 130,000 students, mostly paid by the taxpayers, and has paid himself over $19 million.
Republicans love the idea because it eliminates the public school system and those pesky teachers unions. And wealthy investors love it because they’re in on the ground floor of a multi-billion dollar annual profit potential, funded with tax dollars, and in which they control the future through their connections to local elected officials. Critics say it’s a scam by Packard – a former Goldman Sachs CEO who launched the company with a $10 million investment from convicted Wall Street criminal Michael Milken.
#4 - An appetite for Aluminum: Lloyd Blankfein
The Goldman Sachs CEO has done a masterful job utilizing the high-level bank employees throughout the Obama administration. Thanks to bailouts and overly friendly monetary policy, the bank was sitting on $814 billion in near-zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve and $10 billion from the Treasury Dept. First, Goldman Sachs utilized its off-shore tax shelters to avoid paying $3.32 billion in taxes to the US.
Then, the bank was caught trying to literally corner the world’s aluminum market. The bank began buying up massive warehouse complexes and hording vast quantities of the world’s aluminum in an attempt to drive up the cost of the metal. But Blankfein and Goldman Sachs didn’t stop there. With a monopoly on aluminum, they raised transfer and storage fees exponentially, driving up the costs of millions of consumer products and costing Americans an estimated $5 billion in higher prices since 2010. What is CEO Blankfein’s cut for pulling off such a sinister global scheme? He’s sitting on a personal fortune including a quarter-billion-dollars in Goldman Sachs stock.
#3 - Middle Class Manslaughter: Jim McNerney
Boeing CEO Jim McNerney had a problem. He had only one competitor – Airbus. But Boeing’s financials weren’t as good. Each corporation’s employees earn about the same, but Boeing’s executives take home more. McNerney’s solution wasn’t to lower executive pay to match the competition and remain competitive. Instead, he lowered wages and cut benefits for the army of Boeing factory workers.
In a controversy still playing out today, Boeing threatened to close its Washington State facilities if the workers unions didn’t agree to large pay and benefit cuts and if the State of Washington didn’t pay out massive financial incentives for the company to stay. The state legislature awarded Boeing the largest incentive package in US history, a half billion dollars over 16 years. But the machinists union rejected the pay cut. Boeing has given the union one last chance to vote for the new contract terms. Stay tuned.
#2 - Fast-food Glutton: David Novak
Yum! Brands CEO David Novak is doing such a good job holding down the pay going to Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC employees that stockholders have paid him $94 million in ‘performance pay’ over the past two years. The company also saw a $1.59 billion profit last year. Not only that, but by calling his salary ‘performance pay’, Yum! Brands and Novak can take advantage of a gift from Congress and avoid paying taxes on it, saving them $33 million just on his salary alone.
Critics say that’s not the only way taxpayers are subsidizing the corporation. The pay rate, benefits and hours provided to its fast food restaurants’ employees isn’t enough to keep them out of poverty and qualifies most for welfare such as food stamps and Medicaid. Instead of using the corporation’s massive annual profits to increase wages slightly, it has repurchased its own corporate stock, inflating the value for shareholders like CEO David Novak.
#1 - An awesome Arrogance: Larry Ellison
And the number one greediest person of 2013 is…Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle. Ellison is the 9th richest person on Earth with ownership of one-quarter of Oracle and a net worth of $38.6 billion. Last year as Oracle CEO, he paid himself $96.2 million. But in a shareholder proxy revolution, they voted against that pay package. Larry Ellison simply ignored it and kept every penny.
This year, Ellison paid himself $76.9 million. Again, Oracle shareholders voted his pay package down becoming only the 12th corporation in US history to do so two years in a row. Again, Ellison isn’t giving the money back. Instead, he has the company pay the $1.5 million tab for the army of bodyguards and armed mercenaries that protect him 24 hours per day. In 2013, he not only hosted the world’s premier yachting race – the America’s Cup – but he set the rules and pretty much bought the victory.
The annual Top 10 Greediest People list is a yearly effort published by Too Much Online.
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