The Rockefellers, ever since the days of old John D., have enjoyed the great outdoors. They also seem to have figured out how to make that great outdoors pay. Over the past decade, new Environmental Working Group data show, Manhattan mega millionaire and John D. great-grandson Mark Rockefeller has pocketed nearly $330,000 in federal subsidies for not farming an Idaho property billed as "one of the world's premier fly-fishing retreats." That's much more than half the $500,000 in federal funding that food banks in North Idaho may shortly lose to federal budget cuts. Why aren't taxpayer groups that claim to worry about waste, Idaho social worker leader Delmar Stone wondered last week, "investigating the obscene loopholes and taxpayer giveaways to the super-rich?"
No one knows right now if James Palmer, the chief financial officer at defense contractor Northrop Grumman, is collecting any tax dollars for not farming fly-fishing retreats. But we do know, thanks to eagle-eyed researchers at footnoted.com, that Palmer is pocketing $750,000 in cash from Northrop Grumman to offset the cost of his upcoming personal move from Los Angeles to Northern Virginia. Northrop Grumman is shifting its entire corporate headquarters this summer to the burbs of Washington, DC, to get closer to the company's biggest customer, the Pentagon. Courtesy of that Pentagon — and US taxpayers — Palmer last year took home $11.4 million, over double the median pay in 2010 for Fortune 500 CFOs. To help foot the bill for his moving expenses, Northrop Grumman is lopping 60 jobs off its 360-employee headquarters staff . . .
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Has Polo Ralph Lauren, the pretentiously casual clothing company, suddenly seen the light on CEO pay? That may seem the case — at first glance. The firm has slashed its perks outlay for CEO Ralph Lauren by a hefty $344,000. From now on, the company disclosed last month, chief exec Lauren will get no more than $200,000 a year in free personal travel on the firm's private jet. But Lauren may not notice the cutback. The company has actually increased his overall pay, by over $2 million, to $29.7 million. Also in line for hefty fiscal 2011 paychecks: Ralph’s brother Jerome, the firm's exec vp for menswear design, at $2.6 million and Ralph's son David, the firm’s exec vp for global advertising, at $1.6 million. Why be so generous to Jerome and David? The Polo Ralph Lauren board probably wants to make sure the pair don’t jump at some rival's better offer . . .
Move over, Elizabeth Warren. America may have another champion of average families — and critic of concentrated wealth — in Washington's highest financial policy circles. Sarah Bloom Raskin, a governor on the Federal Reserve Board only since last October, last week let rip with the strongest attack on inequality out of an American central banker in years. The "rapid growth in income and assets for those in the top 1 percent," Raskin told a DC forum, "undermines the ability of the economy to grow sustainably and efficiently." Growing inequality, she added, brings "increases in crime, profound strains on households, lower savings rates, poorer health outcomes, and diminished levels of trust in people and institutions." Raskin, 50, served as Maryland's top financial regulator before gaining her Fed seat . . .
The luxury Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer has just introduced, tech toys analyst Mike Wehner quipped last week, the first smartphone ever strong enough to withstand "catastrophic disintegration if you happen to drop it from your private jet." The phone's secret: an unbreakable "gorilla glass" screen, supported by a frame that comes in a choice of gold or titanium, each with diamond accents. Also available for this hardy smartphone: a customized alligator-skin covering. Total price for the new Tag Heuser Link model: $6,700.