Thursday, 20 November 2008

Private Jets and public handouts!

During the Presidential Campaign I signed up to the Washington Post Newslink and there are quite a lot of interesting stories that come my way from across the pond. One that caught my eye today was Richard Wagoner of General Motors, Robert Nardelli of Chrysler and Alan Mulally of Ford asking the US Government for a $25 Billion handout. The chief executives of the Big Three automakers appeared on Capitol Hill after flying into Washington Airport in their company jets. An ill-timed display of corporate excess, a trio of executives getting off private luxury jets with tin begging cups in their hands. One analogy given was its almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high-hat and tuxedo. I'm not an opponent of private flights by any means, but flying in on private jet at tens of thousands of dollars of cost is a bit arrogant before asking the taxpayers for money.

The trio were asked if it might have been better to have downgraded to first class or even as they all flew from Detroit couldn’t the have shared one jet? The Big Three said nothing. They were then asked if they planned to sell their jets? No Answer.

Later in the hearing Wagoner of General Motors and Alan Mulally of Ford were asked whether, in symbolic gesture, they would be willing to work for $1 a year, as Richard Nardelli of Chrysler has offered to do. "I don't have a position on that today," demurred Wagoner (2007 total compensation: $15.7 million). "I understand the intent, but I think where we are is okay," said Mulally ($21.7 million). Just another example of the fat cats at the top having no idea about how ordinary people exist. On a smaller scale closer to home how can a Mayor on £1,500 a week or a Chief Executive on £3,000 a week (with gold plated pension and rock solid job security) even begin to understand a minimum wage existence or how to survive on social security? Maybe as a gesture of solidarity the Mayor and Hartlepool's Chief Executive should offer to work for a “symbolic” £5.73 per hour?

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