Ovitz: Poster Boy for America
This is what America is becoming: a big bloated tick on the Earth's surface. Oh, not all of us, of course. With poverty levels rising and rising costs for "luxuries" such as health care and utilities draining the middle class's paychecks, we're not all riding the gravy train.

Just some of us. And, contrary to American mythology, it isn't the hardest working, or the cleverest, or those most willing to take risks. Michael Ovitz proves my point.

In case you haven't read the news, Michael Ovitz received a $140 million severance package when he left after just 14 months of poor performance. The board of directors cried foul at this, and challenged it in court.

However, "Sanford Litvack, Disney's former chief of corporate operations and chief legal officer, testified that Ovitz's 'total failure' as president didn't mean he could be fired for cause." He gets to keep it, because he made sure he signed a contract stipulating he'd keep it, even if he were an abject failure. His buddy Mike Eisner sure is a shrewd businessman.

I want to clarify something: if some person rakes in tons of cash for turning a company around from red to black ink, or invents some new kick ass item, or takes a chance on a new venture and it takes off, I have no problem with large earnings.

I have a problem with rich people guaranteeing other rich people that they will stay rich people regardless of talent, knowledge or labor. That disturbs me.

I fear that this will only increase, with the offspring of these wealthy people expecting a similar reward for simply existing. This Time Magazine story article describes some of these up-and-commers:

"Carla Wagner, 17, of Coral Gables, Fla., spent the afternoon drinking the tequila she charged on her American Express Gold Card before speeding off in her high-performance Audi A4. She was dialing her cell phone when she ran over Helen Marie Witty, a 16-year-old honor student who was out Rollerblading. Charged with drunken driving and manslaughter, Carla was given a trial date — at which point her parents asked the judge whether it would be O.K. if Carla went ahead and spent the summer in Paris, as she usually does."

If you think these aren't signs that the wealthy are becoming an aristocracy reminiscent of the 18th century French nobility, read this report from May of this year.

"In 1973, CEOs made 45 times as much as workers, according to pay expert Graef Crystal. In 1991 -- when Crystal said that the imperial CEO 'is paid so much more than ordinary workers that he hasn't got the slightest clue as to how the rest of the country lives' -- CEOs made 140 times as much as workers. Last year CEOs made more than 300 times as much."
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