Comcast CEO paid $30m last year – now you know why you pay $200 a month

Anyone want to take a guess why their Comcast cable and internet costs nearly $200 a month, even though they don’t buy any premium channels? Ka-ching! The fact that Comcast CEO Brian Roberts makes $29.1 million a year certainly doesn’t appear to help.

Unfortunately, it’s not just Comcast that pays their CEO the equivalent of Wall Street wages. Competitor Time Warner paid over $25 million for their CEO, and Walt Disney over $40 million.  It’s good to be mouse.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.

As I’ve said many times before, US consumers receive some of the slowest, yet most expensive, Internet services in the industrialized world. Somehow, despite supposedly winning the Cold War by promoting competition, competition is a dirty word these days in the US in a lot of industries, beyond just Internet and television – there’s cell phones, for starters (mine in France offers far more than yours in America – it’s the same one John wrote about – and I pay only $25 month on my iPhone (John pays $90 a month with Verizon for his iPhone, and that’s the cheapest plan).

There’s something dramatically wrong when the tech powerhouse leader of the world delivers a sub-standard product, at prices that make “socialist France” blush.

Oh but it goes far beyond Wall Street and tech companies.  Remember the former Hostess Twinkies CEO who tripled his salary to $2.5m while preparing to file bankruptcy, and the Hostess management that got $1.8m in bonuses while cutting employee pay by 8%?  That one brought a tear to my eye.

Or the time taxpayers had to pay $3.5m to the Lockheed CEO was fired before he even took the job?  I mean, these guys make millions doing nothing.  Or the Royal Bank of Scotland chairman who thought an $11m annual salary was “modest,” even after the company had to be bailed out.

Of course, none of that can top one of our favorite CEOs, GOPer Meg Whitman, who took a salary “cut” at HP, and “only” got $15m because she had a bad year.  I’d like a bad year like that.

Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina in São Paulo, Brazil. Photo: Antônio Milena/ABr.

Then there’s Meg’s close competition in the failed-CEO-done-good category, another GOPer former HP CEO, Carly Fiorina.  Carly, you see, won the title “19th worst CEO of all time,” but she still got a $40m retirement package, $20m of which she “forgot” she had.  Of course, that didn’t stop Carly from claiming that union pensions were too high.  I’m gonna go on a limb here and suggest that none of them retired with $40m for doing a lousy job.

(I’d also like to know why the US Senate Chaplain makes $150,000 a year, and more importantly, why the US Senate has a chaplain.)

Then there’s Credit Suisse, whose profits plummeted 24%, had to cut 2,300 jobs, but still was able to give its CEO and chairman 33% raises.

But before I sign off, I’d be remiss when discussing pampered businesses if I didn’t say a word about Big Pharma. You might recall that they’re one of the reasons we didn’t get a public option in health care reform.  But we coddle Big Pharma and their big profits lots of other ways too, such as not letting Medicare negotiate with them for lower prices, like Big Pharma does in every other country, especially in Europe.

We also don’t let Americans bring in cheaper drugs from other countries – well, we let them bring a couple-month’s worth, that’s it, lest we hurt Big Pharma’s deep pockets.

As John has written about extensively, a lot of popular prescription drugs like Advair, a lead asthma drug, go for four and five times as much in the states as compared to France – and it’s the same drug made and sold by the same company.  Why?  Because the French government negotiates for prices, and the US government doesn’t – because our freedom-luvin’ politicians think it would be un-Amurikan to treat Big Pharma like a business and actually negotiate with them.  No, it takes the “socialist” French to treat Big Pharma like capitalists.  And Big Pharma reaps the rewards, while you pay exorbitant prices for both prescription drugs and health insurance, when you don’t have to.

I’m proud to be an American, cuz at least I know I’m gouged.

But hey, on behalf of all us socialists here in France, we sincerely thank America for subsidizing our commie health care.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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