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Feb 13, 2005
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"Have you ever noticed that the farther away you get from hard work, the more money you make?" asked Dub as he read the business section of a newspaper.

"I thought you only read the comics," I said as we munched on our lunch.

"Usually that's all I read," admitted my friend, "but the inconsiderate reprobate who left this newspaper behind took everything else. Listen to this," he continued, "it says here that top hedge fund managers last year made $207 million! That's apiece!"

"WOW!" I gasped. "I don't know any farmers or ranchers who made $207 million last year actually producing the commodities those paper hangers were trading."

Dub grunted and read on. "According to this article, a generation ago your average CEO made 40 times what his employees made. Now it's 500 times!!"

"Dub, are you sure? That can't be right!"

"I never said it was right," said Dub, "but that's what it says in this newspaper."

"That's depressing. No wonder you usually only read the comics."

"Yeah, I gave up on the style section when miniskirts and hot pants went out of fashion, and on the sports section when third basemen started making $25 million a year. Between steroid cheating athletes and CEOs going to prison for fraud, it's all just too depressing.

"These stories on the front page of this business section are typical. Either they are all about crooked CEOs, mergers or layoffs.

"And get this," roared Dub, getting madder by the paragraph, "a lot of the stock of these conglomerates is owned by the pension funds of the workers who got laid off!"

"Yeah, I never understood these massive layoffs of 10 percent, 20 percent or even 50 percent of the workforce of some of these huge corporations. What were those workers doing in the first place if they weren't needed?" I asked.

"I know if I laid off half my workforce, which would be my wife, I would cease operations shortly thereafter."

"According to this article, the reason CEOs can lay off their workforce is because they are replacing their American workers with cheaper foreign labor."

"But if American workers have been laid off, who will have any money to buy the foreign goods?" I asked Dub, who looked lost in thought. Or maybe it was indigestion.

"Here's a story about a guy who Forbes Magazine called one of the worst bosses in business, who made an average of $121 million per year for six years while his shareholders were losing an average of 5 percent per year."

"Yeah, I think I must have owned some of his stock," I replied.

"Even when the CEOs do a rotten job they don't get laid off, outsourced or downsized," said Dub. "Instead, they get golden parachutes and golden handshakes. It says here that Michael Ovitz got paid $110 million to leave Disney because he was doing such a bad job as president. Carli Friona got paid $20 million to walk away from Hewlett Packard. When Richard Grasso left the New York Stock Exchange, he got a parting gift of $188 million. I wish," said Dub, "that someone would pay me to quit."

"Dub, you are unemployed!" I reminded him. "Your golden parachute is never going to open."

"Well, maybe I ought to apply for a big CEO job. I'm confident that I could do just as bad if given the chance."

"You're unemployable," I pointed out, quite correctly.

"I guess you're right," said Dub. "But Lee, I'm sure there'd be plenty of people who would pay YOU to quit. You've irritated millions of people in the past who would pay you to go away. There's PETA, USDA, Frenchmen, cutting horse enthusiasts, the NCBA, the IRS, Welsh Corgi owners, Hollywood stars, residents of Ekalaka ...

"All right, all right. I get the idea. People paying me to quit writing is about the craziest idea I've ever heard."

On second thought ... (Author's note to the aforementioned parties: All bids over $188 million to shake my golden hand will be considered.)
And to think that we all had the opportunity to chase the big money when we were born, and some chose not to take it. I guess that is the great thing in these great countries of ours, we have choice!

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