Sorry, but this isn’t a sad story about an unfortunate family barely able to eke out an existence on pennies a day. It’s about a bunch of millionaires who put in 8-hour days just like the rest of us only to walk away each week with a dollar or less to show for it.
The story of Richard Kinder, the “grossly underpaid” co-founder of energy corporation Kinder Morgan Inc., ran in the Baltimore Sun a week ago, but it’s been sticking around in my thoughts due to a few interesting details. Kinder voluntarily takes home a salary of just 93 cents a year after taxes, but you don’t need to worry about him and his family going hungry. Like Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who earns the same salary each year, Kinder makes millions of dollars from the sale of company stock.
So why has this story been kicking around in my head for the last ten days? It’s because of this line…
Symbolic or not, Kinder gets the cash. The company cuts him a single check for 93 cents, after taxes, at the beginning of each year. Kinder owns stock worth more than $2 billion, and his 24 million shares will generate $84 million in dividends this year. But he cashes the 93 cent check.
He cashes the darn check! He probably pays a personal assistant $20/hour to do it for him, but he still takes the time to endorse it. I wonder if I sent him a check for $1 if he’d cash that, too.