Some salaries are recession proof

Jul 28, 2009 5:04 PM
Burnt Offerings by Stan Bergstein |

Times are not too good, but they can’t be too bad, at least if you measure things by the standards at Harrah’s headquarters.

If President Obama or Treasury Secretary Geithner run short of funds, that is where they should go to get more.

Harrah’s CEO, Gary Loveman, took home $92.3 million last year, which sure beats teaching at Harvard, and topped all Las Vegas executives. No one should doubt who runs things over there, for it was $76.6 million back to the next highest Harrah’s official, Carlos Tolosa, president of the company’s eastern division, who picked up $15.7 million.

The rest of the top echelon did not wind up suffering, with Charles Atwood, vice chairman and former CEO, receiving $13.1 million; Tom Jenkins, western division president, $7.9 million; Jonathon Halkyard, senior VP and chief financial officer, $5.5 million; and John Payne, central division president, a mere $4.3 million, hardly enough to get by on.

We realize these numbers, at least in the lower range, pale into insignificance when measured by what is paid to a good quarterback or hard-hitting center fielder, but consider the huge contributions to the community and to society made by all of these guys on the field.

When this year’s Major League Baseball season got underway, Alex Rodriguez was making $33 million a year. Manny Ramirez (pictured) of the Dodgers was making $23,854,494; Derek Jeter of the Yankees $21.6 million; Mark Teixeira of the Yankees $20.625 million; and Carlos Beltran of the Mets, was struggling to make ends meet, his salary only $19,243,692.

Lance Berkman of the Houston Astros, who was to receive $14.5 million, was 25th on the overall list of earners.

The Yankees median pay, with half the players earning more and half less, was $5.2 million.

Pitcher Barack Obama’s salary is $400,000, and reliever Joe Biden makes $221,100, but the president gets $600,000 for expenses, a hundred grand for travel and $19,000 for entertainment, which seems a pittance. So does his total $1,100,019 when you consider all he does on the diamond is throw out the opening all-star pitch.

When the president of the United States and leader of the free world makes $1 million and baseball players $33 million, something is seriously out of whack with our values system.

We do not know what professor Loveman thought about executive compensation in America when he taught at Harvard, but we presume he feels it should remain out of the reach of government today.

There is a moral to this story. If you can’t get your kid in Harvard, get him in Little League early, and send him to the nearest baseball school. At the very least, make sure his school has a baseball team. The economy may go down the tubes, but baseball and its big league salaries are here to stay, good times or bad.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Stan Bergstein