Well, step right up to my medicine wagon, for I've got just the potion you need to cast away your retirement worries. It's called a "consulting agreement," and all the top CEOs are getting them these days. Oh, you're not a CEO? Tough luck, chump, for you don't know what you're missing.
In addition to getting fat pensions, health coverage for life and other retirement goodies, the top honchos of major corporations also are collecting handsome fees for hanging around the executive suite as company-paid consultants after they formally retire. What do they do for the money? Somewhere between "not much" and "nada." As one pay expert puts it, "As a practical matter, most CEOs don't turn to predecessors for advice." Another expert gingerly notes that "consulting agreements are a fuzzy area."
Fuzzy ... but comforting. Motorola's former boss, for example, is pulling down $4.6 million for two years of unspecified "work" (on top of his $14 million supplemental pension). PepsiCo is ponying up some $2 million a year through 2008 for a former vice-chairman, whose only duty is to be "available to consult." One wonders: Does it count as "available" if you leave your cell phone on while sipping cocktails on a Caribbean beach?
Then there's meat magnate Don Tyson, former chairman of Tyson Foods. He gets $1.2 million a year for "advisory" services through 2011, but he'll not likely get many calls, since the company got caught engaging in an accounting scam on his watch. To settle the fraud case, Tyson agreed to pay $700,000. Poor Don ... but do the math: His "advisory" job, minus the fine, still leaves him with $5.3 million to assuage his conscience. Imagine.
CEOs no longer fade away ... they steal away.
& lt;i & For more nuggets of wisdom from America's No. 1 populist, check out & lt;a href="http://www.jimhightower.com" & his website & lt;/a & & lt;/i & .