How Big Was Your Christmas Bonus?

Worker's holiday bonus

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The holiday season has passed, and a good deal of us are probably financially strained from spending our hard-earned money on gifts and food for the season.  We also face rising energy costs, as oil has hit a record $100 per barrel.  On the other hand, CEOs have been receiving large bonuses.  Let us compare how well the working class and the executives have fared over the holiday season.

Although there are many problems unfolding – the housing bubble bust, the credit crunch, and an economy teetering near recession, the top securities firms have handed out nearly $38 billion in seasonal bonuses, the highest total ever. 

Lloyd BlankfeinOf the executives that have been given exorbitant bonuses, the CEO and chairman of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, has come out on top.  His holiday bonus will bring him $68 million in cash and restricted stock options.  This is the largest bonus ever given to a Wall Street CEO, shattering last year’s $54 million record – which he himself set.

Bonuses given to Wall Street executives are far higher than those given out to other executives (and infinitely higher than the bonuses we workers receive, assuming we receive one at all).  According to Tom McMullen of the Hay Group, a consultant for human resources and management, the cash bonuses given to top Wall Street executives ranged from 40 to 100 percent of base salary. 

While the executives enjoy massive salaries and bonuses, working people face an opposite trend: a fall in our real wages and standard of living.  According to a  poll conducted by Lake Research Partners for the Change to Win labor federation, only 16 percent of those polled thought that their children’s generation would be financially better off than their own, and nearly fifty percent of respondents believed that their children’s generation would be worse off.  To top this off, the Congressional Budget Office has revealed that the after-tax income of the richest one percent of the population has increased 228 percent from 1979 through 2005.

In other words, those of us that work hard face layoffs and wage cuts, and those that do very little, if any real work, get huge bonuses. It’s the same old story: under capitalism the rich get richer, the poor get poorer.


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