10 Little Piggies

Forget welfare moms and the unemployed. No one feeds at the public trough like these ten.

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

CEO, Barrick Gold
Salary: $1M/yr.

OK, you can have the gold, but only if you poison the water.

Under the 1872 Mining Act, Barrick and other huge companies don’t pay any royalties for mining on public lands. They are allowed to purchase the land–which now yields about $3 billion of minerals per year–for $5 an acre or less. And the cleanup costs for abandoned mines are staggering, estimated at $32-$72 billion by the Mineral Policy Center.

CEO, Flo-Sun
Salary: secret

Doesn’t everybody need a sugar daddy?

Thirty-three giant sugar growers have one of the sweetest deals going–at least $1 million annually each in price supports. Of the $1.4 billion in subsidies doled out to sugar growers yearly, about 42 percent go to the top 1 percent, like Flo-Sun. These subsidies jack up consumer sugar prices, and increase sugar cane farming in the environmentally sensitive Everglades.

Chairman, McDonald’s
Salary: $1.9 M/yr.

Ever think they might need some Chicken McNuggets in Kazakhstan about now?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture spends about $85 million annually on consumer marketing campaigns and promotions to spur the export of well-known products such as McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets, Miller beer, and Campbell’s Soups. The subsidies generally benefit huge companies at the expense of smaller ones.

CEO, Mitchell Energy
Salary: $800,000/yr.

Hey, we paid for that tax break. Ask George Bush.

Exploration companies like Mitchell Energy and Development of Texas have long benefited from a “depletion allowance.” They can deduct 15 percent of gross income or sales as compensation for the decreasing value of their oil wells as they are used up. Over the years, some of these companies have deducted more than the entire value of their investments.

CEO, General Atomics
Salary: secret

And, furthermore, we’re sick of hearing about Chernobyl.

The U.S. has spent more than $900 million–and could well spend another $2.6 billion–for research on a gas-cooled nuclear reactor. Both Bush and Clinton proposed killing it on environmental, economic, scientific, and safety grounds. But its politically powerful builder, General Atomics, lavishes contributions on Congress members. RANDALL L. TOBIAS
CEO, Eli Lilly
Salary: $1.8M/yr.

The Caribbean has always been a good place for drug deals.

Led by pharmaceutical giants such as Merck and Eli Lilly, U.S. firms receive $4 billion in tax breaks yearly on operations in Puerto Rico and other U.S. possessions. Powerful friends to the industry include GOP senators Hatch and Dole. Though the breaks are designed to spur job growth, consumer groups say they skew the market toward rich companies. DANIEL M. TELLEP
CEO, Lockheed Martin
Salary: $1.6 M/yr.

But they go really fast and blow things up!

Lockheed Martin Corp. is building the F-22, an advanced fighter jet. Sen. Dale Bumpers (D-Ark.) and others claim the jet is too expensive and probably unnecessary. Defense Secretary William Perry cut $200 million of its funds from the 1996 budget. Limiting production of the F-22 and using the F-15 as the standard plane for fighter jets would save $6 billion in a five-year period.

Chair, McDonnell Douglas
Salary: $1.6 M/yr.

Remember how much fun it was to look down the barrels of our own guns in Somalia?

Subsidies for foreign buyers of American weapons now cost taxpayers about $2.5 billion over five years. Many analysts and peace groups criticize this as wasteful, subsidizing the handsome profits made by defense giants such as McDonnell Douglas Corp., General Dynamics Corp., and Northrop Grumman.

CEO, Phelps Dodge
Salary: $1.1M/yr.

There’s a reason they’re called the “extraction industries.”

Mining, oil, and gas companies benefit mightily from a tax provision that allows them to deduct certain capital costs instead of depreciating them. Phasing out this provision could save about $6.1 billion over five years, but mining companies such as Alcan and Phelps Dodge Corp. will lobby hard to preserve it.

CEO, Archer Daniels Midland
Salary: $2.7M/yr.

But in return for the money, he always sponsors the biggest butter-carving at the annual state fair.

From corn sweetener to ethanol, no list of the corporately subsidized would be complete without the CEO of the giant food concern, Archer Daniels Midland (see accompanying story).

Salary figures do not include stock options and other forms of compensation.

Sources: Friends of the Earth, National Taxpayers Union Foundation, Progressive Policy Institute

Go back to the rest of our report on corporate pork.
See Hot Media for more resources.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend