The following is lifted from a proxy statement, received this week from AT&T. A stockholder is seeking to make the company report to stockholders the details of all political contributions. AT&T recommends voting against the proposal.
(Full disclosure: I’m a small stockholder in AT&T, which is how I became aware of this stuff in the first place.) Says AT&T:
Political contributions, where permitted, are an important part of the regulatory and legislative process. AT&T is in a highly regulated industry, and the Company’s operations are significantly affected by the actions of elected officials at the local, state and national levels, including rates it can charge customers, its profitability, and even how it must provide services to competitors. It is important that your Company actively participate in the electoral and legislative processes in order to protect your interests as stockholders.After reading that, can you possibly wonder why the majority of Congressmen, Senators and even state and local legislators could be mistaken in broad daylight for whores? Or why many, Republican and Democrat alike, are so crooked they could hind behind corkscrews? Or even why you phone bills are so high, with politicians bribed with "contributions" to let AT&T charges you whatever it thinks it can get away with before you bleed to death?
Blame much of it on Citizens United
Corrupt influence in politics has always been bad, but the U.S. Supreme Court decision that money is speech in the Citizens United Cases sealed the doom of democracy in the United States of America. Because now there's no limit to how much and who AT&T and other companies can pay off to make the law go just the way they want it.
And if you’re an AT&T stockholder and think AT&T’s political contributions are good for your investment, have another think. The political influence of the corporation’s top executives allows them to rip you and me off (as well as their employees) for many tens of million of dollars, which they use to line their own pockets.
Executive toys to go with the money
For example, according to the same proxy statement, the CEO of ATT alone receives a total annual compensation package of $19,000,000.00. (If you're getting dizzy from all the zeros, that's nineteen million bucks. A year.) That doesn't include compensation for his chief operations officer, chief financial officer, and other "C-suite" greed-a-holics. And with all that dough, they’re trying to up their compensation. Moreover, that’s only the cash part. The CEO and his fellow senior executive ripoff artists also receive playthings and cash for playthings…
…including an automobile allowance and maintenance, which is an important recruiting and retention tool; club memberships (we allow Company- owned memberships, but do not pay country club fees and dues for executive officers), which afford our executives the opportunity to conduct business in a more informal environment; home security for the safety and security of our executives; tax preparation, estate planning, and financial counseling, which allow our executives to focus more on business responsibilities; and executive disability benefits. The financial counseling benefit provides financial counselors to executives, which helps the Company by ensuring that our executives understand and comply with plan requirements. We provide our executives communications, broadband/TV and related products and services, which are offered by AT&T at little or no incremental cost. We permit our executives to use Company aircraft for personal reasons, which allows for the efficient use of their time and for them to privately conduct Company business at any time. However, beginning in 2013, the CEO will be required to reimburse the incremental Company cost of all such personal usage. Other Executive Officers are also required to reimburse the incremental cost of their personal usage unless the CEO decides otherwise on a case-by-case basis.
Poor babies ! Ninteen million bucks a year and they can’t even afford their own cars and burglar alarms. Or tax lawyers. And it's so-ooo hard to retain these guys.
It's not just a disease. It's an epidemic.
I wish I could tell you this is an exceptional case, but I read lots of proxy statement and I gotta tell you, it’s commonplace.
So bend over, America, and enjoy getting raped.