A modest essay on extraordinary paychecks

Even Sarah Palin, my fellow Idahoan (she was born there), agrees that greed caused the financial crash. That's the crash that has visited the despair of unemployment to some 13 million Americans, evicted millions in foreclosures, and a cast a gloom over the future of young Americans now exiting universities. "I think the corruption on Wall Street. That's to blame. And that violation of the public trust. And that contract that should be inherent in corporations who are spending, investing other people's money, the abuse of that is what has got to stop."

Public Citizen hereby presents some startling figures on the object of that greed: "Hourly Rates: A Modest Essay about Extraordinary Paychecks."

For example, every fourteen minutes in 2009, hedge fund manager David Tepper made President Obama's annual salary. No matter how well compensated our Hollywood and sports stars are, the real money comes from the business of money.

The AFL-CIO's PayWatch noted that recently major bankers, apparently embarrassed by their dependence on record taxpayer subsidies, have tightened their belts. Thomas Montag, president of global banking at Bank of America, received only $29 million, or $14,500 an hour. 

But the hedge funds have demonstrated no such restraint. The magazine Institutional Investor declared David Tepper the best-paid hedge fund manager in 2009 at $4 billion. To put this in perspective, that is $2 million an hour. That is one million dollars every half hour. A Pittsburgh native, he donated $55 million to Carnegie Mellon University, which gratefully changed the name of a graduate program to the David Tepper School of Business. That was half a week's paycheck.

None have pinned the crash on David Tepper. But the lure of such large paychecks led many to shed prudence for pecuniary pursuits.

This article originally appeared in Citizen Vox. The author is the Financial Policy Advocate of Public Citizen.

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