Richard Smith was the CEO of Equifax … until Tuesday when he stepped down from his position. Or was asked to step down. The investigation into what happened in the Equifax security breach that was made public earlier this month is ongoing, and there is no word whether Mr. Smith, and the two others who also stepped down were responsible. 143 million U.S. adults’ personal and credit information was hacked during May thru July. But now here is what sticks in my craw …
Smith will receive a pension of $18.4 million. $18.4 MILLION!!! Plus … he stands to gain an additional $5 million IF he is found guilty of some wrongdoing!!! As it stands, he is leaving by ‘mutual agreement’, and as such is not eligible for the $5,000 severance payout. But, if the investigation should provide evidence that Smith was in the wrong in some way, then Equifax would change the status of his departure to ‘terminated’, and then he would be eligible for severance. Chew on that one for a minute or two while I go fix myself another cup of coffee …
And in addition to the above, the company is still considering certain other awards that could, potentially, end up with Mr. Smith receiving as much as $90 million. I think we need look no further than this to figure out at least one of the things that is very, very wrong with capitalism, at least as it is practiced here in the U.S.. $18.4 million is obscene, under any circumstances, but when there is a strong likelihood that this man had at least some role in exposing nearly every adult in this nation to broad theft, he should not be getting a penny, let alone tens of millions of dollars.
I was curious about CEO severance packages in recent years, so I went in search of … and I think your jaw will drop when you see these …
- Jack Welch, General Electric, 2001 – $417 million
- Lee Raymond, Exxon Mobil, 2005 – $321 million
- William McGuire, United Healthcare, 2006 – $286 million
- Edward Whitacre, AT&T, 2007 – $230 million
- Bob Nardelli, Home Depot, 2007 – $223 million
Compared to these, Richard Smith must feel like quite the pauper.
Admittedly, I do not know any of these men, so I cannot speak of their character. But speaking broadly, it is my firm belief that there is no one human being on the face of this earth who is worth that many millions of dollars. My other point would be that … what the Sam Heck does one do with that much money? I tried to find out if Jack Welch gives anything … anything at all … to a legitimate charity, but I can find no evidence that he does. Interestingly, his net worth as of this year is $750 million.
Back to Mr. Smith … if he was in any way responsible for putting almost every adult in this country at risk of financial jeopardy, why should he benefit by a single penny, much less millions of dollars? There is something very wrong with this picture, at least in my mind. Apparently living above those ‘glass ceilings’, living in the bubble of wealth, robs a person of his conscience. It makes me appreciate people like Bill Gates who worked hard to actually earn their money, and then use it to do good things for people less fortunate.
This is the problem I have with capitalism today. So many have wealth beyond what they could ever use, while so many on the other end of the spectrum barely survive. I have little, but enough to meet my needs, so I am happy. I do not wish for millions, although I would wish for the wherewithal to help people more. My conscience does not tap me awake at night … I wonder if Mr. Smith’s will?