Geraldo Slams Conservatives and Corporations on 'Capitalism's Cancer'

January 5th, 2007 11:12 AM

Geraldo Rivera had it in for both businesses big and small as he attacked them and conservatives over minimum wage and compensation packages on last night's Geraldo At Large. During his final commentary, on the Fox News syndicated program, Rivera found conservatives' resistance to a minimum wage increase, "deeply troubling," and claimed it exposed "a cancer at the very heart of capitalism," compared to the "obscene fortunes" made by "mediocre business executives." Rivera then proclaimed his "belief in free enterprise," but invited on Rep. Barney Frank to spew this socialistic propaganda: "We are talking about a very real inequity in our society where a very small number of people are monopolizing almost all the increased wealth and most people are getting none of it." To expose inflated compensation packages Rivera singled out former Home Depot exec Robert L. Nardelli, calling him a "loser," but perhaps Rivera shouldn't be so quick to attack the overpaid given that his own employer, Fox News, just axed his show.

The following is a complete transcript of Rivera’s final segment from the January 4 Geraldo At Large:

Geraldo Rivera: "The Democrats took over Congress today for the first time in 12 years. One of the first things they're planning to do is to raise the minimum wage which has been stuck at $5.15 an hour for almost 10 years. Now what I find amazing and deeply troubling is how many conservative commentators still think raising the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour is a bad idea, especially in light of the outrageous amounts that some very bad bosses are being paid. First of all while it is as much as my hard-working dad ever earned in his life that was 30 years ago. Nobody can live on $5.15 an hour any more. It works out to about $200 a week, $10,700 a year and still they complain. Small businesses, that they'll no longer be able to afford staff. Conservatives, that kids who can make more, will be more likely to drop out of school. But despite my belief in free enterprise I think the continued reluctance to raise the minimum wage exposes a cancer at the very heart of capitalism especially when you compare the money we're talking about here to the obscene fortunes being raked in these days by a growing number of mediocre business executives. Take the loser who just got kicked out of his job at Home Depot yesterday. Ousted by his companies board of directors Robert L. Nardelli is expected to receive a condolence prize valued at $210 million. That works out to about $45 million for each of the six years he was leading his company into the toilet, its stock dropping 20 percent. $210 million. Do you know how many kids could get paid the new minimum wage out of this loser's severance package alone? Let me tell you. $7.25 an hour would cover the salaries of 13,925 workers for a year from what this one guy is getting to leave the company he kicked in the groin costing his stockholders millions. Congressman Barney Frank, the incoming chairman of the House Financial Services committee thinks the pattern of executive compensation is out of control. The new chairman joins me from Washington where the 110th Congress convened today for the first time. Congressman welcome, congratulations on your new chairmanship. We computed that the $210 million that Nardelli is taking out of Home Depot could pay almost 14,000 kids the new minimum wage of $7.25 an hour for a whole year. Is that right?"

Rep. Barney Frank: "Yes and I'm glad you put it in those terms. We're not simply talking about some of us resenting the fact that others get more money. There are two problems here. First we've been told that these very, very large sums, far more than anybody could have ever spend in a lifetime that they are justified as pay for performance. That you give them these large amounts of money because they do so well. Well the man just got $210 million for being fired. And then as you point out, 14,000 of them could have gotten that raise for a year for what one guy takes home. We are talking about a very real inequity in our society where a very small number of people are monopolizing almost all the increased wealth and most people are getting none of it."

Rivera: "Congressman Barney Frank thank you very much. Good luck on the new Congress."

Frank: "Thank you."