"Life goes on"

This is a dark week. LI is trying to find what inspiration we can. So imagine our joy when we came across a story in the WSJ today about a class that we sometimes too carelessly insult – I’m talking about the upper management of Fortune 500 corporations.

The story, “Executive Pay: The 9/11 Factor, by Charles Forelle, James Bandler and Mark Maremont” is about the sheer patriotism of that group – its belief in America, even when times are down. Take 9/11. Stocks plummeted in the wake of 9/11. But… well, here’s the inspiring story:

“ON SEPT. 21, 2001, rescuers dug through the smoldering remains of the World Trade Center. Across town, families buried two firefighters found a week earlier. At Fort Drum, on the edge of New York's Adirondacks, soldiers readied for deployment halfway across the world.

"Boards of directors of scores of American companies were also busy that day. They handed out millions of bargain-priced stock options to their top executives.
The terrorist attack shut the U.S. stock market for days. When it reopened Sept. 17, stocks skidded more than 14% over five days, in the worst full week for the Dow Jones Industrial Average since Germany invaded France in May 1940. But for recipients of options, the lower their company's stock price when options are awarded the better, since the options grant a right to buy shares at that price for years to come. The grants set recipients up for millions of dollars in profit if the shares recovered.

"A Wall Street Journal analysis shows how some companies rushed, amid the post-9/11 stock-market decline, to give executives especially valuable options. A review of Standard & Poor's ExecuComp data for 1,800 leading companies indicates that from Sept. 17, 2001, through the end of the month, 511 top executives at 186 of these companies got stock-option grants. The number who received grants was 2.6 times as many as in the same stretch of September in 2000, and more than twice as many as in the like period in any other year between 1999 and 2003.

"Ninety-one companies that didn't regularly grant stock options in September did so in the first two weeks of trading after the terror attack. Their grants were concentrated around Sept. 21, when the market reached its post-attack low. They were worth about $325 million when granted, based on a standard method of valuing stock options. “

Faith in America – and faith in gouging Americans. They go together like chocolate and peanut butter, or Halliburton and Cheney. Even as they were weeping for compatriots lost, these company boards knew that a smash and grab opportunity like this doesn’t come around twice in a lifetime. There is a saying about the amoral opportunist that he would dance on his grandmother’s grave – but what a waste of grandmother that is! Especially when you can rent her dead body out to necrophiles and make a little of the ready.

Ah, this is a true story of the people Bush calls his base. And base, oh so base, they are, the most debased mob of knaves and thieves ever to have afflicted this country. A white collar riot, in which the rioters aren’t going to be taking cheesy tv sets and shit – that is so below par when you can rack up the extra million here and there and you are guaranteed tax advantages by a president who came in via coup. Sweet! Robber barons did many things, but one thing they did supremely: build. In contrast, this is the crowd that has utterly reduced the American manufacturing base and stands in the way of creating a green economy, in spite of the overwhelming long range necessity of it. The are a parasitical crew of pirates, more than willing to sink this country for a dime and a percentage point. And they are winning, every day. Can't you feel it, reader, in your shoulders and neck?

“The 91 companies included such corporate icons as Home Depot Inc., Black & Decker Corp. and UnitedHealth Group Inc. It included two companies directly touched by the tragedy. Merrill Lynch & Co., across the street from the Twin Towers, lost three employees. On Sept. 24, Merrill granted its president options to buy more than 750,000 shares, at a price 15% below the pre-attack level. At Teradyne Inc. in Boston, an employee delayed a business trip until Sept. 11 to attend a son's soccer game and died on American Flight 11. Teradyne that month gave its CEO more than 600,000 options at a price enabling him to buy stock at 24% below its pre-attack level.

At Stryker Corp., a Michigan maker of orthopedic products, onetime stock-option-committee member John Lillard said he didn't regret the decision to award options nine days after the attack. "If you believe the company is going to do well, and here is an external event that is affecting the market and you've made a decision to reward executives, you go ahead with it," Mr. Lillard said. "Life goes on."”


new york pervert said…
Here's Peter Baker, WAPO:

"What they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over," Bush says with his mouth full as he buttered a piece of bread.
"Who, Syria?" asked Blair, standing next to the seated Bush.
"Right," Bush said. Within an hour, the remarks were broadcast on television stations, radio stations and websites around the world.

Here's Jim Rutenberg in the NYT:

'Leaning over the back of Mr. Bush’s chair, Mr. Blair first brought up trade discussions, as the president chewed thoughtfully on a roll.
Mr. Bush then abruptly changed the subject to the Mideast, complaining about Mr. Annan’s approach to the crisis, and for holding the view — which is shared by many of the leaders here — that Israel and Hamas and Hezbollah should halt the violence and then hash out their differences. The Americans have said that Israel would likely only stand down if Hamas and Hezbollah returned the soldiers they have kidnapped and ceased their shelling of Israeli towns.
“I don’t like the sequence of it,’’ Mr. Bush said. “His attitude is basically ceasefire and everything else happens.”
He went on to say the U.N. should directly enlist the Syrians to intervene. “I feel like telling Kofi to get on the phone with Assad and make something happen,” he said to Mr. Blair, referring to Syria’s president, Bashir Assad.
“See, the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this [expletive],” Mr. Bush said, “and it’s over.”
Mr. Blair reiterated his argument, made earlier in the day with Mr. Annan, for an international force to be dispatched to the area.'

This is minor in a sense, but not only shows the prissy smugness of the Times writer (I admit I was surprised that Baker went on and wrote 'shit'), but also did actually capture something of how they talk in private--emphasis rather brutal than cleverly sinister. I was almost suspecting Rutenberg to end his with 'I couldn't agree more.'
new york pervert said…
'Who, Syria?' to the full mouth is funny, as is also 'the seated Bush.'
new york pervert said…

Since I found the above, NYT has photo of the buffoons together, and Bush looks like he dips snuff. I don't know if anybody would really need to see this though. I wonder if he dips Rooster or Peach.
roger said…
Well, from all accounts, Mr. Brush's nasal passages have known the fine tickle of white powder for sure.

On NPR they played the sequence, but bleeped the shit. WAPO has adopted a rather fine policy of quoting profanity -- they quoted Cheney telling that senator to Fuck off. It is funny that the NYT could run an article about the new, fun uses of slut and not publish the word shit. But I must admit, I rather like the way the Times puts its prose through its own odd version of Fowler.