Failure Rewarded

Boeing Company’s board of directors decided it was time for Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg to go. Muilenburg oversaw the 737-Max disaster, with a pattern of obstructing F.A.A. oversight. Two crashes of the now-and-still-grounded plane killed 346 persons. Recently-released internal company communications display employees ridiculing the design and safety of the 737-Max. One employee derided the jet as “designed by clowns, who in turn are supervised by monkeys.”

Boeing was so unhappy with Muilenburg that he will receive no severance pay. Don’t feel too bad for this disgraced executive, though; he walks away with stock options and other assets worth about $80 million.

Wells Fargo’s CEO Tim Sloan resigned in March 2019. He had spent the previous couple years trying to convince regulators and legislators that the bank is no longer a threat to its customers. Under Sloan’s leadership, Wells Fargo opened millions of fraudulent accounts in its customers’ names without their consent, wrongly foreclosed on hundreds of borrowers and repossessed the cars of thousands of others. Tim Sloan received more than $150 million compensation since 2011. His retirement package included outstanding stock worth more than $24 million.

Joan and Sanford I. Weill Hall

When Sandy Weill is mentioned in Bay Area media, his name is usually prefaced with “Philanthropist,” not “Rapacious.” Sanford I. Weill helped crash the economy during his reign as CEO and Chairman of Citicorp. Rather than skulk away from Wall Street after his tireless efforts for financial deregulation, Weill ensconced himself in a 11,600 square-foot cottage on 360 acres near the town of Sonoma California. Taxpayers kept Citicorp afloat with $45 billion. Weill put up $12 million for the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Concert Hall at Sonoma State University. He made more headlines with his commitment of $185 million for the Weill Institute for Neurosciences at University of California, San Francisco.

And on and on and on… How did these corporate titans become so successful? They’re in the club. The club that lets them head corporations with their sycophants on the boards of directors and corporate compensation committees. As noted philosopher George Carlin profanely reminded us, “It’s a club, and you’re not in it.”

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