Despite recent stock market crashes and corporate meltdowns,America's corporate elite are living the high life. Evensome of them who are under government investigation aredoing just fine.
Nantucket, off the Massachusetts coast, is filled withmultimillion-dollar mansions. One of these is owned byDennis Kozlowski, former CEO of Tyco International. Hispalatial villa has a four-bedroom guest house and a garageon 3.8 oceanfront acres, all valued at $6 million. He takespleasure trips on a $20 million yacht called the Endeavor,which has a cherry wood deck and a working fireplace, whichhe keeps in a private $45,000-a-year slip. Kozlowski alsoowns homes in Florida, New Hampshire and Manhattan. Lastmonth, he pleaded not guilty to charges that he cheated onhis personal taxes, allegedly trying to avoid paying salestax on some $13 million worth of art, including a Renoir anda Monet.
Former WorldCom CEO Scott Sullivan is building a hugemansion in Boca Raton, Florida. He?s been accused byWorldCom of cooking the books, leading to the largestbankruptcy in American history. But he still drives aroundBoca Raton in a silver Range Rover. Under Florida law, hishome is safe from lawsuits and creditors. His ex-boss,Bernard Ebbers, owns a Mississippi mansion and more than600,000 acres of property, which is about the size of RhodeIsland.
Martha Stewart, who is under investigation for insidertrading, is putting the finishing touches on her huge estatein Bedford, New York. In Houston, work continues on themultimillion-dollar mansion being built by former Enron CEOAndrew Fastow, while five congressional committees, the SEC,and the FBI are all investigating him.
In the posh Bel Air section of Los Angeles, workers arefinishing the $94 million, 8-acre, 50-room estate of GaryWinnick, the former chairman of Global Crossing, which filedfor bankruptcy in January and is under investigation by theSEC and the FBI. His company's stock went from $60 a shareto 5 cents a share, but he cashed in $734 million worth ofstock before the collapse.
Kevin Phillips, author of ?Wealth and Democracy,? sayswealthy CEOs live like they?re above the law. He says,?[CEOs are] basically saying, ?Hey, out there with themeatloaf, I don?t share your pain! Watch me! I?m havingchampagne. You?re having a TV dinner. Hah! Who's a loser??It reflects, I think, their own view of themselves at thepeak, as kind of an American nobility.?
Phillips believes the U.S. is in a ?major historical greedperiod.? Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan agrees andrecently stated that much of the business community isgripped by "infectious greed."
"It's sickening," says laid-off employee Ralph Hicks, whoworked for 10 years at Tyco.
"The American dream is one thing. We all need that," saysMelissa Tucker, another 10-year Tyco veteran. "But this issuch an extreme it's ridiculous. [Kozlowski] doesn't seem tohave any kind of moral being, thinking about what's going onand how he got it. It's just there for him for his taking.It hurts. It hurts."
Before the French Revolution, 18th century France had thesame problem, and they solved it with the guillotine. MaybeU.S. working stiffs will come up with a similar solution.
Wealthy civilizations of the past have sunk without a trace.Learn all about it in ?From the Ashes of Angels? and ?TheGods of Eden? by Andrew Collins,click here.
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