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In case you missed it amongst all the debate hubbub, another modern day robber baron cashed out yesterday. According to the folks at Think Progress:

“Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit abruptly resigned today, leaving the helm of the bank that he guided through the financial crisis of 2008. For his five years of leading Citi, Pandit will receive compensation in the neighborhood of $260 million.”

Not that he did much to earn it. As the article also notes:

“Overall, Citi lost 88 percent of its value under Pandit. Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal dinged Pandit for having the pay package that was most detached from his company’s performance, as a three-year decline of 27 percent coincided with his making $43 million.”

Ah, the genius of the “free” market…

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In anticipation of Big Business Day, er uh,  Labor Day, the good people at the National Employment Law Project are out with a new report that shines some welcome light on a much undereported subject in modern America: the huge and growing profits of low wage employers.

This is from the release that acccompanied the report:

“America’s low-wage economy is marked by two extremes.  On the one hand, workers earning at or near the minimum wage are seeing the real value of their paychecks diminish steadily over time, as the cost of living increases while their wages remain stagnant.  After nearly half a century of neglect, today’s federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is decades out of date.  In terms of purchasing power, its value is 30 percent lower today than it was in 1968.

On the other hand, many corporations are posting record-breaking profits. Read More

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Hurricane Isaac is raking the Gulf Coast this morning on the seventh anniversary of Katrina and will undoubtedly leave a trail of destruction and woe behind. Elsewhere, however — for better or worse — the world moves on. Here’s one small bright spot worth celebrating: The good people at the Center for Media and Democracy report that the front group for right-wing economic and social causes known as the American Legislative Exchange Council (or ALEC) continues to lose more and more members.

According to this encouraging report:

“Six more companies have indicated that they are cutting, or have cut, ties to ALEC: General Electric (GE), Western Union, Sprint Nextel, Symantec (maker of Norton antivirus software), Reckitt Benckiser Group (a British consumer goods company that makes such brands as French’s mustard, Woolite, Lysol, Clearasil, Durex, and D-Con), and Entergy (a power plant company headquartered in New Orleans)…. Read More

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It seems that everyone’s getting numb to the disturbing stories coming out of the Duke-Progress merger, but this one ought to register something on the outrage meter.

According to AP and the Winston-Salem Journal, Duke Energy has agreed to hold some of its big wholesale customers “harmless” for any costs that they may incur as a result of the merger. Read More

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There are at least a couple of thoughts that occur this morning in wake of the latest news about Duke Energy’s acquisition of (sorry, merger with) Progress Energy (née CP&L):

#1 – While some in the mainstream news media (and the Utilities Commission Public Staff) seem surprised that former progress chief Bill Johnson (right) has now been muscled out of the way and given a platinum parachute by the big Monopoly game winner Jim Rogers (left), my first reaction was: How could you not see this coming? Fat cat, empire-building CEO’s like Rogers are not about sharing power; they’re about winning it and grabbing more. The bottom line here is that Rogers came to this game with more weapons and almost certainly always intended to emerge “victorious.” All the public talk about cooperation and merger were almost certainly p.r. bull.

#2- And as for Johnson, Read More