Time Warner Cable, the corporation that thought New England Cable News was unnecessary in this part of New England until a groundswell of opposition caused it to reconsider in December, has since been sold to Comcast. This may or may not benefit consumers but it will certainly benefit one man, Time Warner CEO Robert D. Marcus, who will become the latest top executive to bail out with a parachute of gold.
The New York Times reported last week that Mr. Marcus, who became the company's CEO at the start of the year, will receive an $80 million exit package if, or more likely when, the deal closes. That is roughly $1 million a day for the six weeks Mr. Marcus ran the company before agreeing to sell it. That's something for Time Warner customers to ponder when their next bill arrives.
Obscene exit packages aren't new. John " Neutron Jack" Welch, so- nicknamed because he got rid of employees while leaving buildings standing during his tenure as top dog at General Electric, received a $417 million package when he departed the corporation in 2001 according to the research firm GMI Ratings. That is believed to be the record for assuring that departing execs won't have to rely on Social Security or get overcoats from Goodwill, but Mr. Marcus' golden parachute is notable because he spent so little time as corporate honcho.
It is also notable because the nation's attention has become so focused in recent years on the ever-widening gap between the 1 percent and the 99 percent in America, between the outrageous salaries and bonuses of top executives and the stagnant salaries of the average employee. A minimum wage worker for a chain retailer or fast food joint could work for half a century and still not earn what Mr. Marcus earned each day before putting himself out of a job. Yet House Republicans refuse to consider a bill to hike the minimum wage enough to raise as many as 900,000 workers over the poverty line.
Top executives in America can sell their companies, retire or even get fired and walk away with more money than they could ever spend on vacation mansions, Ferrari fleets or whatever else amuses them. Meanwhile, the middle class struggles to pay bills and meet college expenses for their kids, and the poor get poorer. These are all symptoms of a sick and sickening economic system.