February 6th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

How would you live on $500,000 a year?


Wall Street and financial firms argue that limiting executive pay to $500,000 is unfair. (PHOTO CREDIT:GETTY IMAGES)

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

So this week President Obama said executives at companies that get bailout money will not be allowed to earn more than $500,000 per year. Poor things. And if the companies want to pay them more than that, it has to be in the form of stock that cannot be sold until the loans are repaid to the federal government.

The Wall Street and financial firms argue that is unfair. They say talented executives will leave for greener pastures and fatter paychecks at companies that don't take bailout money. Maybe. We'll have to see how many of those are still around if and when this stimulus package gets through Congress. And at this moment that's far from a sure thing either.

But I digress. Back to how to make it on $500 grand a year. Cancel the country club membership? Sell the yacht and the vacation home - homes. Maybe have junior apply somewhere besides the Ivy League where college goes for upwards of $60 grand a year. List the Hummer and the all-terrain vehicles on E-Bay. Maybe check into the cost of a membership in Costco. It's not going to be easy.

Here’s my question to you: How would your life change if you were forced to live on $500,000 a year?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Tony from Atlanta writes:
I'd live like a king! I could afford to stop living paycheck to paycheck, decent daycare, college funds, a retirement plan, to actually tithe 10% of my income and a yearly vacation that doesn't include piling everyone into the car and driving several hundred miles to visit a relative. Oh yeah, Jack, I could afford a good steak, every now and then, and a lot more laughter!

Adam from Philadelphia writes:
For someone like me, who earns a good middle-class income that would be like winning the lottery. Unless, of course, I suddenly decided I needed new luxury cars, a much larger house, or an 83K rug to decorate my office. These Wall Street crooks have convinced themselves they need all their fancy things so to them 500K just doesn't seem like a lot of money. Hmmm... maybe I'll stay right where I am after all. Thanks, anyway.

Venia from Pennsylvania writes:
I'd be able to pay off my bills and house and have money to live on and not have to buy so much color to dye out the gray hair.

Ricky from Roanoke, Virginia writes:
Like a Republican - with 8 houses!

JW from Atlanta writes:
I'd want to have a babe on my arm, a fancy ride in my two car garage and steak on the table in front of my extra big screen TV. But with federal taxes, state taxes, county taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, ad valorem taxes, user fees, corporate taxes and luxury taxes, I suppose I'd end up with enough for a whiny old lady, an old pickup truck and a burger with onions in front of my tv with no cable.

Matt writes:
If I had to live on $500,000 a year? That’s like telling a fat kid that he has to eat his dessert first.

Mike from Syracuse, New York writes:
That would be great. I'd be making enough so I'd be able to stop paying taxes, just like Geithner, Daschle, and company.

Filed under: Bailout • US Economy
soundoff (156 Responses)
  1. Venia PA

    I'd be able to pay off my bills and house and have money to live on and not have to buy so much color to dye out the grays.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  2. Mike, Syracuse NY

    That would be great. I'd be making enough so I'd be able to stop paying taxes, just like Geitner, Dascle, and company.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  3. Joe in DE

    Just like a poor Wall street executive.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  4. Vivian Fauntleroy, Largo MD

    Greatly! I could decrease the number of Working Retirees by one.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  5. BILL

    Send me a check for $500,000 and this time next year I'll give you a report on how my life changed. P.S. I'll even pay the taxes.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:10 pm |
  6. Sue -Idaho

    Jack, a hell of a lot better then I'm living right now.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  7. sean brizendine

    jack i would live like a king on 500k a year.

    "sean in santa rosa"

    February 6, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  8. Linda in Florida

    If I had $500K a year, I probably would sleep a lot better because I wouldn't be so worried about money.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:14 pm |
  9. Lee in TN

    We could live very well on this amount,be debt free, and still have a pretty good chunk left,thank you!

    February 6, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  10. Melissa

    Really really well. I could own a house, pay off two cars, and pay off all debt owed by my husband and I at the moment.

    $500, 000 is more than I've made in 10 years of working. There are times I've even worked myself into agonizing pain for only around $10 an hour. The most I've ever made at a job is about $12 an hour and that was only temporary.

    The greed shown by those people who think their lives with end for making less than $500, 000 a year just disgusts me.

    I can't even imagine what making $500, 000 a year must be like.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  11. Carolyn Murphy, NC

    Oh PLEASE, PLEASE, force me to live on $500,000. Im sure there are many more that could be forced t live on $500,00. a yr. Heck force me to live on $50,000. a yr.

    Just bring on the money

    February 6, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  12. Margie Montgomery

    If I had to be forced to live on $500,000 a year, I could be more like you, Jack!

    February 6, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  13. Annie, Atlanta

    That's easy, Jack, I'd refit my home with solar energy, insulated windows and tankless hot water, and put in a green house, well, and rainwater collection system, right after I bought an electric car. After the initial output I would live like I could never have imagined.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  14. Gina in Racine, Wi

    I wish someone would "force" me to live on $500,000 a year!

    It would be hard but,........I think I could do it.

    Just so you know.....this statement is dripping in sarcasm.

    If a Company is failing so bad that they have to ask the taxpayers to bail them out......then the people that caused that failure shouldn't even have a job.....let alone be rewarded the half a million obama wants to cap them off at.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  15. Shane in Boston

    Well...that would come out to about a $474,000 dollar raise...please don't do the math...its kinda sad. I would probably get rid of all of my debt, save half, and spend the rest. Isn't that what we're supposed to do?

    February 6, 2009 at 2:34 pm |
  16. Darren

    So well, that I'm sure I'd have to hire a couple illegal aliens to clean my house, like most of our elected officials do.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:34 pm |
  17. John in Santa Barbara, CA

    Granted, those high paid exects will move to greener pastures, and good riddance. they didn't do a good job so they won't be missed.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  18. jyll from TEXAS

    hey Jack, I'd love to live on $500,000.00 a year...where do I sign up???

    February 6, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  19. AndyZag Lynn, MA

    Jack, I would save the money in some type of interest bearing account for my retirement. I would anxiously wait for that glorious day when I could actually retire only to find that a less than competent Republican Administration had all but bankrupt the country and all of my savings would barely buy a Happy Meal!

    February 6, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  20. NANCY M.- Colorado

    That's funny. The question should be: "How would those people cope if they were forced to live on $30,000 a year or less?"

    February 6, 2009 at 2:37 pm |
  21. Sly, Alpena, Mi

    I would not even know how to live off that type of money every year, even if it was forced on me.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  22. Paul S. Columbia, SC

    I would use the money to hire all the fired and jobless corporate executives that put their companies in the toilet; to clean mine.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  23. Dave from Orlando

    That would put me in a very difficult situation if I were forced to live on a half million dollars. First of all, I can’t even count that high. Then, I’d have no idea how to blow through that much money every year. One year is doable, but each and every year having to spend that amount would be too much like work, I’d just have to give the lion’s share to charity.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:44 pm |
  24. Kevin, Chester Springs PA

    Very comfortably.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:44 pm |
  25. David in San Diego

    Well, we'd need to cut back a little, but if you can't enjoy visiting in Paris for just two months a year, what do the additional months really add anyhow?

    February 6, 2009 at 2:45 pm |

    I have one brother who has been laid off, another brother with cancer who may never work again. My mother has cancer. So after I arrange to get ALL the cable channels and maybe some treats for mydogs, I would probably be doing a lot of sharing the wealth.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  27. BD in Boise

    If I had to live on $500,000 a year I'd become a Republican and start asking for more tax cuts for the rich.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  28. Ed Reed

    I might start voting Republican.

    Ed Reed
    Port Aransas, TX

    February 6, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  29. Dr. Judith L. Bezeredi

    George Soros once told me, when I asked him: why is he giving all that money to OSI or CEU. He said: One may be able to spend one million per year, may be even 10. But why would you need billions year in and out? I have no problems with the $ 500,000 pay cheques, but when it comes to millions per year, when the company is in factual bankruptcy. That I don't understand. Publicly listed company CEOs should not be getting more salary than 10 times the lowest pay in the company.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:01 pm |
  30. Dakota Don from Akra

    'Forced' to live? ... ... that's difficult.

    Truffles in my gruel, foie gras on my bread scraps and a heaping teaspoon of beluga caviar on my dry cat food?

    February 6, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  31. Lisa

    Hi Jack,
    My life would change, I would finally be able not to worry how I was going to feed my kids and pay my bills every day. Wow, that would be nice.
    If only!

    February 6, 2009 at 3:32 pm |
  32. lynnej from lattimore, nc

    $500,000 a year, roughly $32,000 a month after the taxes, I could live very well. Heck, I could live off of $75,000 a year and be good.

    With half a million a year, I could pay off my doctor bills, get my health in order while at the same time fix up the house and go back to school for my masters. And that is all in the first four months with that kind of cash.

    After then, everything goes into savings. There will be no big trips or high priced fancy cars. I'd be as frugal as I am now, shopping at JCPenney's and Walmart. Because I could afford it at that point doesn't mean I need to buy it.

    If these dolts don't like this pay, they need help. There are over 2 million folk out of work that would take it and run. I know because I'm one of them.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:33 pm |
  33. Don (Ottawa)

    Nicely, Jack?

    February 6, 2009 at 3:34 pm |
  34. lou

    We've never been big spenders. I would be able to donate a lot more to my pet projects...the local library, food pantry, etc. I'll bet if the regular people did make that kind of money there would be a lot more bell ringers with full kettles in our country.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:35 pm |
  35. William Joseph Miller

    As a retired school teacher from an inner city school located in a 'hood AKA the "Killing Fields", I really have little use for so much money. I've spent a whole life time of doing without. Although I got something that the equivalent to "merit pay", truth told, the "merit pay" amounted to forced overtime without time and a half, but then unpaid overtime is part of line of work. A large chunk of change went back into my classroom because I preferred doing without than seeing my students do without. For my entire career, I have never know a time when schools had enough money to function adequately. So $ 500,000 a year? Get real.
    I might use some of the money to buy a better place to live (but not too much – because I want avoid high maintenane and high property taxes.) I might put some of the money away to ensure that I can maintain an adequate – not elaborate – life style. The rest of it, I'd simply give away to charities to help others. 3 billion people in this world must survive on less than $ 2 a day. In that type of world, a salary of $ 500,000 or more is obscene.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  36. Daniel, Indiana

    I think I could scrape by. I have never earned that much in a twenty year span, so I think I could manage, but it would be difficult.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:39 pm |
  37. jim Toronto

    My life wouldn't change a bit...
    I would still check my pants pocket for loose change before handing them over to the cleaners.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  38. Nuria in Miami

    Are you kidding me? I'd be out of debt. I wouldn't have to worry about my retirement. I could own a very modest little house. I could quit my job and do what I really would love to do, which is volunteer work for animals. I'd would save money. I can go on and on here.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  39. Jane in CA

    I could save 80% of it and still have almost twice my current income. If I had to actually spend it, I could remodel my whole house, or maybe just build a new one. Or maybe just give a year's pay to a few of the people in town who just got laid off.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  40. Tony from Torrington

    Jack, I could stop working now at age 66, and live quite well after working for the past 50 years. A half million a year? Gee, I wonder if it's enough.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  41. Judy, Exeter, Calif,

    Like royalty. Anyone who can't live on $500,000 a year. is seriously disturbed.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  42. May

    I would have more dogs... I can depend on them !

    February 6, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  43. Jeremy Magoon


    I would have to say our the changes in our lives would be pretty good. Considering that 500-thousand is about nine times what my wife and I make in a year.

    Chambersburg, PA.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  44. Ryan, Portland OR

    Oh Golly Gee, forced to live on 500,000? How could I afford the house in the Hamptons, and the maids, and massages for my dog Fifi, and new Porsche's every year for my kids! I mean, this would be a disaster!

    February 6, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
  45. Kim - Blair, NE

    Like royalty in comparison to what we have now. This is kind of a silly question, Jack.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  46. Dona Leecraft

    I could pay off my credit cards, afford to fix the plumbing, buy a new mattress...mine is 25yrs old, get a new refrigerator that is also over 20yrs old and on the blitz. $500,000 could take away the constant fear of making it each month. It would also be nice to buy some new sheets and towels. Dona from Tulsa, Ok

    February 6, 2009 at 4:53 pm |
  47. Cori

    I'd help out my entire family with that money, and then, I'd help out my husband's immediate family. With only $500K a year, it would average out to the way I live now, which is paycheck to paycheck, but we eat a good meal every night, and have a roof over our heads. So I guess I'd say, we would be living like Kings.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:54 pm |
  48. Katherine - Oklahoma


    I almost spit my drink out across the monitor I was laughing so hard at this question.

    Lets see....pay off all my debts, take a vacation every once and while...not have to watch every nickel at the grocery store...I just don't know how I would make it.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:04 pm |
  49. moe dallas tx

    Not very well..You would have to worry about investing.taxes, proper clothing and of course steak and lobster..I'm happy with my $20k . Don't have to pay those nasty taxes..

    February 6, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  50. william fitzwater

    a lot better than I am now.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  51. Jon, Los Angeles


    I'd be forced to spend more.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  52. fred conklin

    I wouldn't be in bankruptcy

    February 6, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  53. Roland (St George, UT)

    I don’t think it would change too much. I’m a veteran, disabled, and get by on 18K a year now, so I’d probably keep living on 18K a year, maybe give myself a tiny raise, but not too much…and then just bank the rest, with exception of giving 10K per year to each of my still living parents (so they don’t have to pay taxes on the gift) and giving to charity regularly. Whatever is leftover whenever I die I will have divided and leave a percentage to outreach organizations like Salvation Army who help people get their lives back together, and then leave the rest to go to Veterans’ organizations.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  54. Bob

    Jack. As a headhunter, I can honestly say these senior execs are tainted. They'd be better off staying at $500K and turning around the company. That kind of success will pay big for them later on. Right now, if they leave, they'll have a difficult time getting a new gig.

    I doubt any of them would leave if pay caps are initiated.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  55. Barry in Key West

    If I were forced to accept $500,000. next year, I promise you I'd never have to work another year as long as I live.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  56. Nate from Chaska, MN

    Oh, I would struggle **sarcastically**

    February 6, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  57. Matt

    If I had to live on $500,000 a year? Thats like telling a fat kid that he has to eat his desert first.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  58. maria, california

    I'd actually be able to take a deep breath and know I can always have a roof over my head.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  59. Roshini in Minneapolis


    My life would be great! I'd be debt-free...probably able to help my parents pay off any of their debt. I'd give more to charity than I'm able to now, and I'd save for rainy days ahead. Thanks for the question.
    I'll keep dreaming.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  60. Gloria in PA

    I'd do so much more charitable giving.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  61. Mike

    Jack, if deflation begins, this might actually become a legitimate question.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  62. Ingrid C. Hanson

    I would be delighted to be forced to live on $500,000 a year! I would continue to live on my current modest income, and give the rest to others who have been forced, for various reasons, to scrounge by on virtually nothing in this current economic situation.

    Ingrid Hanson
    Eugene, Oregon

    February 6, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  63. Joe B. Vancouver, WA

    Well Jack... with $500k Id be able to eat on a regular basis instead of surviving off of the tasty yet slightly unsatisfying meal of "hope and dreams in a blanket". If only!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  64. Dawn West, Bowie, MD

    That's a problem I'd love to have. If, I had to live on only 500,000 per year I would be debt free, have a solid savings account and take one vacation per year. I would sleep very well and I'd be very happy.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  65. Charles Jones

    If I were forced to live on $500,000.00 per year I would be happier than a pig in dodo!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  66. Fay Indianapolis,In

    Are you serious?I barely make it on 27,000 a year.What do you think?!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  67. Rob

    On $500,000 per year I could pay off my home, help my mother survive on her fixed social security income AND give $300,000+ away per year to help others. I have no sympathy for overpaid corporate executives.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  68. Bob in Eastern CT

    We're living on $911 a month from Social Security so this would be an extreme challenge for me.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  69. Julian A Torrey

    That would be a $465,000 raise for me. I would go out and dance in the street giving out $100.00 bills to everyone who stop to watch.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  70. Roeland Beers, Netherlands

    Each month when I buy a lottery ticket I dream to win 500.000 (and be very glad to have that luck only once). To be forced to live on 500.000 a year would be a very good stimulus for the economy. Local and probably all across the globe too. As I am self employed in real-estate, it isn't fat times at all. It simply looks like a dream to me.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  71. Nick


    If I had to survive off of $500K a year; I would have all my debt paid off and I would have the capital to finance my start-up company! Life would be so....difficult!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  72. Mike

    I'd never have to cut firewood again!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  73. Jayaram

    I tried very hard, but couldn't come up with a sensible way to spend more than 100k a year!!!!! unless I spend $5000 on a trash can!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  74. Dustin Cornett

    being that I currently make 5.50 an hour plus tips and I am lucky if I bring home 300 a month right now....if I was "made" to live on 500k a year...I would definatly have less problems since right now I cant even find a better job than delivering pizzas....this sucks.....I say give the bailout to the people that actually need it...divide amongst tax paying americans that make less than 150k a year.That is what I say

    February 6, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  75. Frank Cape Coral, FL

    No I don't need that much to live comfortable,on half of that I can live like a king, my family would get a great inheritance, I would go fishing more often, give to my local charities. and all for half of what you offer. Oh ! where can I pick up my check?

    February 6, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  76. Karen Dodd


    I would be DEVASTATED to be forced to live for only $500K per year. Why, I'd be forced to get a bigger house, buy a luxury vehicle, join a country club (and I don't even play golf... oh well, I guess I'll be forced into learning how). And as for the yacht, I actually prefer sailing, so you can only imagine how torturous that would be! I don't know that I could even go on living after that... GET REAL, WALL STREET.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  77. Karen Delaney

    Jack, I might finally have to suffer through the ordeal of getting my autistic son the ABA therapy he so badly needs and while I'm at it I might also HAVE to fix the holes in the sheetrock that he's created through head-banging. It would be difficult on all of us but his twin sister is used to having to give up things so I think that she would understand the sacrifice that would be needed to live with so much....I mean..... to live with so little.....I think you know what I mean.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  78. Chris McDonald

    I'd have to get REAL job and quit watching CNN all day long.
    Mansfield, TX

    February 6, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  79. Judy Harvey

    If I were forced to live on $500,000 a year I would be living high on the hog! I am a teacher at a small rural school, and my husband is a farmer, so we live on about $35,000. And yet we managed to raise three children, and we almost have the farm paid for:).

    February 6, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  80. James "Rusty" Broach

    I for one would do a lot to improve the local economy. A shopping spree and start my own businesses where the employees would earn $15.00 an hour.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  81. Elizabeth

    Gee, $500,000 a year? I could pay off my bills, buy a new Hyunda Sonata, maybe even take a 7-day vacation. They're acting like babies.
    Now they can see how the rest of middle-america lives.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  82. Corey, Boston MA

    I could pay off my student loans get a used car and maybe help my father keep his house from being foreclosed on.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  83. Patty

    PULLEASE give me the chance to try. That would be a pay raise of $460,000 for me. WOW! I'd live like a king!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  84. Joel Schibbelhute

    Jack, I'm not sure if I could muddle through on 500K a year, I might have to buy some health insurance.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  85. Joe

    Jack, I would love to give that a shot! I could put 480,000 into a savings account. I have been living on $20,000 for the past several years. I challenge all the big execs and all of Congress to live on the same. I am 70 years old and just put $500.00 from my meager income into the propane tank!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  86. Don

    I would live like a stately prince; a very stately prince and a land owner on $5000,000 a year. I, needless to say, would be very happy with that amount of money.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  87. Jim CA

    I wouldn't know, since I never had a salary of 6 figures let alone $500k.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  88. audra, california

    Jack, just give me 200k, i could pay my mortgage, pay bills, put money away for my kids education, save some and spend some. Wouldn't that help to stimulate the economy.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  89. Dan Boston

    It would be tough. No longer worrying "can I pay the car insurance?". Being able to go out and eat at a nice resturantant. Owning my own home, car, being able to pay debt. I don't think I could handle it.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  90. Thomas Cargo

    Jack i make 28 to 30 thousand dollars a year and i have never made any more than that! I have raised my son and we have always been happy!! if i made 500 grand a year i would take care of the rest of my family and would give some to my favorite charities!!! I think they should make 30 thousand a year and try to survive in the real world!!!!!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  91. randy

    I wouldnt know what to do with myself with that much money im 24 years old ive been working for 10 years and havent even been close to making that much in my life

    February 6, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  92. Wayne Abraham

    $500,000.00 a year? That means $41666.00 a month. Wow, that makes my head spin seeing that I manage to live on $1000.00 a month.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  93. Will

    As a teacher, I wouldn't know what to do with $500k every year. Maybe I could give some to people who can't afford the one house they live in?

    Will in Ohio

    February 6, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  94. Jim / Cambridge, NY

    My mattress would be a bit lumpier. That give you any idea of the confidence I have in our economy, government, and financial wizards?

    February 6, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  95. Robin

    I'd probably get a hernia from carrying the extra $465,000 to the bank.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  96. Tony B, Lady Lake, FL

    Gee, Jack, 10 times my current salary!? I like to think I'd be debt free, well funded for retirement and able to help my family. . But, you know the deal...the more you make, the more you spend. By the way, do you know of any successful companies looking for a CEO to drive them into the ground?. I come cheap. I'll tank the company in six months or less and take a paltry $5 million to do it! A bargain, compared to most of the delas we're hearing about.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  97. John

    Surely you jest. 500k? How could I buy a 60k umbrella stand or a million dollar painting? ? How could I throw a birthday shindig for my wife with an ice sculpture peeing vodka. I'd rather be in jail. Oh my.............

    February 6, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  98. Doug in NJ

    I would "unfortunately" have to have paid off my mortgage, and credit card bills instead of filing bancruptcy and losing my home. Then I would have had no choice but to buy 2 reliable vehicles that i dont have to fix in my driveway in the rain when its 35 degrees outside so that my wife can get to work in the morning... and then theres the other $300,000... What to do... maybe start a college fund for my son, Donate to the local firehouse and first aid station... Then theres next year when my debt to income ratio is zero.... oh the horror of having a mere half BILLION dollars a year to live on....

    February 6, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  99. Phillip B.

    I could live off 500k for ten years.

    Phillip B.
    Bradenton, Fl.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  100. Deb from NYC

    Not to sound too greedy here...but is it $500 before or after taxes? If it's a full $500k I'd buy a house, some good deals out there. And if it's after I'd put it into my new handmade card business to get it up and started. Either way, I'd live with a lot less stress!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  101. Becky

    My husband is an active duty military member. He has been in for 10 years and makes just over $30K/year. I am a stay-at-home mom, so this is our only income. If we were "forced" to live on $500K a year, I honestly don't know what we'd do with so much money! Every month it would be my husbands annual income plus an additional $11.6K!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  102. rachel sharp

    Hey Mr. Cafferty
    500 thousands will hire 15.6 new teachers in Tucson
    500 thousands will fund many non-profits that actually do something for society

    Hey Wall Street I can teach you how to be poor.

    Retired Teacher

    February 6, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  103. Kathleen Mazus

    Jack, if i made 500.00 a year i would think i was a millionaire!!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  104. Ken Schultz

    I am puzzeled why you are questioning the proposed level of the annual CEO pay of $500K.

    Annual pay is an irrelevant data point that the avearage person cannot put into perspective.

    $500K works out to about $240 per hour in a typical 2080 hour work year. Americans need numbers that they can relate to.

    I hope you will think about this.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  105. Dana

    Give me 500K a year for 3 years and I'll retire and open up a good job for someone else.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  106. Judith of Georgia

    Jack ,

    If I was making $500k, I could pay off my house and assist with our grandchildren's education. In short, life would be "great".

    February 6, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  107. Mary Toohey (Kentucky)

    Gee...compared to my unemployment checks (that will run out next month), I THINK I could survive – IF I had to. After submitting over 200 applications for work, it would be nice to just relax and not have heartburn when I don't hear from a potential employer. It would be tough, but I think I could get used to it.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  108. Michele

    Oh Jack!

    Our family is surviving on disability income (2 kids 2 parents) and as a caregiver, I can tell you that our lives would be stress free of financial worries and would be able to afford to keep the house toasty in the winter. Maybe throw in a real vacation, if we can remember how to do that, since it has been over 10 yrs since we had one.

    Those people are so entrenched in a mind set of "entitlement" that have no idea how much money 500K a year really is.

    It is pathetic.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  109. Stephen from Waterford, Michigan

    I could live on $500,000 a year, That is more than the average person earns a year. Who seriously needs $50 dollar champagne, 5 different houses, large jets? Wall Street is plain greedy and they make more money than the amount required to live in one lifetime. This money can be used to stop poverty, hunger and diseases if "Change" and "Happiness" is what you desire. Otherwise expect The United States economy to quickly fall into a longing depression.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  110. Ryan, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

    As a 22 year old, engaged, student, my fiance and i were able to make it through the entirety of last year on around $25,000. For some reason, I couldn't qualify for Financial Aid for school and I was also lucky enough to put my fiance through school as well. How did we do it? We drove one car, didn't go out to eat, and only spent money on things we needed...Oh, and I also contributed 5% of my paycheck to my 401k. I don't feel at all sorry for these executives.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  111. Stephen Wolz

    MMMM, Sweet, I retired after 40 years of work and I have yet to make over $25,000 per year, the way I see it, I could have retired after only 5 or 6 years of HARD LABOR!!!

    God, I pray for the day I can make $500.000 annually,


    February 6, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  112. mike

    Jack , I'm a police officer. Give me 5, and I'll give you 4 back!!!!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  113. Sharon, Texas via NY

    II would pay of my home (only if the value has not nose dived), pay off any debt and save. If the value of my home has dived, i would walk away from it, and purchase a new home for cash at a great discount.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  114. Susan

    Gee Jack, I'm forced to live off of $15000.- a year, and you know I just had my taxes done and did not get everyting back. To think that some of my hard earned and paid taxes are going to these crooks makes me vomit! This is how the rest of us live. My question is how much longer are WE THE PEOPLE going to let them get away with this? We need a Robin Hood!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  115. Patrick Barnes

    In my 47 years on this planet, I've managed to satisfy my needs for all the things that money can't buy; family, friends, a sense of community, and a relationship with a Higher Power. The unsolved issues in my life, unfortunately, all require some type of financial solution. But ALL of the money-related problems in my life would be INSTANTLY solved if I were "forced" to live on just 10% of this $500,000 salary cap!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  116. Doug

    How would my life change? Quite a bit. $500,000 a year before taxes would still provide me everything I've ever wanted.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  117. Edward Vancouver BC

    If i was forced to live on $500k per year I would consider myself lucky. Just think, I could have had it invested with Madoff.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  118. Maria

    The only big difference would be, owning instead of renting my 2 bedroom home. I would still drive my red 92' Volvo station wagon!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  119. Patricia

    I'd live very comfortable. And with money left over to stimulate the economy!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  120. Jess

    I'd be forced to shop at a bulk food store, pay for my cholsrens education at a community college, pay my mortgage and help provide for my entire family back home and write a certified cheque to a third world country who lives ok less than a dollar a day. How date he, ruining my livelyhood.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  121. Michelle

    I think I could live pretty well if I were forced to live on $500K, even for 1 year. I would be able to pay off my student loans that I incurred after I decided to better myself and the society I live in by obtaining a graduate degree. After living on $1000 per month voluntarily for several years, I could probably make better use of that money (and make it last!) better than the poor babies who have to "deal" with this salary cut.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  122. Terry,Meadville Pa.

    I would work for one year at my current status and then I would work the next 7 years and donate my pay to the less fortunate. At my current job I will not earn $500,000.00 in the next 7 years.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  123. Frances

    $500K a year ~ I'd tell my crappy mortgage lender to shove it when I pay them off. After that, I'd send my son to college, help some of the unfortuate souls in my city and then bank the rest for my older years. Yeah, I could live with a lot less and not moan and groan like the greedy big wigs. Jack, love your commentaries..they make my day!!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  124. Toni

    I am now forced to live off of $500,000 a year? Heaven must be like this!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  125. Ryan

    I would be able to sleep at night knowing my father wouldn't have to work till 3AM just to make ends meet at the age of 70.

    I would be able to ensure I got the healthcare I need for my preexisting conditions of which insurance companies won't cover.

    My family would be able to afford the healthy food of which is marked up out of our price range.

    Jack, most of us are having trouble just living... When greed consumes you sure it's unfair reality... When you are having trouble keeping your head above water it's just a cruel dream...

    February 6, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  126. Kenny Marshall

    Wow. I'd really have to tighten my belt for a while. I'd need to get my wife's medical bills paid off, her student loans... all of our other miscellaneous debts combined...

    It would be really tough at first. After that though? Clear sailing.

    Including our normal monthly expenses It would take about a month.

    But it would be a REALLY tough month. Almost as tough as our daily lives now.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  127. Jennifer F.

    $500,000? That only breaks down to $1370 a day! I shudder at the thought of how my lifestyle would suffer! Seriously, maybe I could stop buying all my clothes at Target!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  128. William Pagdon

    Just 1 year of earning $500,000.00, which is 10 times my normal Salary, would mean my Autistic Son will have financial security for the rest of his life.

    The people that complain $500,000.00 is unfair should remember that they are profiting from the investment of people like me. Frankly, I believe it should be illegal to claim such profits on others investments.

    William Pagdon
    Edison, New Jersey

    February 6, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  129. Angie from Des Moines

    My husband and I would pay off all our debt (including our mortgage) and give back to society by contributing time and money to worthy organizations. As Sally Field said in the movie Forest Gump, "There's only so much money you need. The rest is just for show." Bling is out, giving a damn about one another is back in vogue.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  130. frank

    i am 56 yrs old...my wife and i are both nurses we gross 120,000 a year or near that if u gave me 500,000 a yr until i retire and i lived on or about the same buget i doubt i could spend the excess before i die if i retire at 65 yrs old....let those fat cats come and live on my salary for awhile


    February 6, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  131. Dana McEndree

    How would I live on $500K?
    Remember the cavemen who finally learned to grow and store their own food, when given the chance to spend a moment NOT in pursuit of safety & the next meal, those cave men ushered in an explosive evolutionary jump.
    The corporatocracy wouldn't want an evolutionary leap, Jack ~ the slaves might say, "We don't need you."
    On $500K I'd have the time to come up with some better answers than I see on the Hill.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  132. Anita P Laycock

    The members of Congress that vote againest the Stimulus should not get help for their state!!!!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  133. Ronald Comer, GA

    For executives and Wall Street officials to argue this is unfair is proof of the greed and selfishness that exists on Wall Street today. Didn't we already overpay them with the last failed bailout? – and still with no results.... $500,000 is far more than anyone I know is making. I'd be happy to apply for the job with that wage!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  134. Chy

    How could anyone force me to live off 500K a year? That's not even enough to fix my seventh nose job! Making me nix my seventh nose job would be a blow (pun intended) to the reality show economy, which needs fabulously overpaid, self-obsessed, pseudo celebs like me to keep those "less than 500K a year" people distracted!

    (Totally joking by the way...thank goodness for Obama's sense).

    Chy N.
    Westbury, NY

    February 6, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  135. James Kipler

    Hi JACK!

    I'd use the money to have every politician in Washington vetted. We'd probably have to have an emergency election.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  136. Mike

    who knows Jack, in an unstable economy like this one, inflation could make this a legitimate question.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  137. Rayshaun H.- New York

    Jack what a silly question is this? With $500,000 I would not be caring about any government bailout happening, I would have literally every debt paid at least a home paid for in full and several cars and enough money left over for vacation and anything else I wanted. This is more then enough for those greedy executives. The last time I checked 500,000 a year is alot more then $0 a year, if their companies go under.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  138. notso sureabout this

    Come on people, do you really want the government telling you how much money you can earn. What's next.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  139. Dave from Chicago

    How would I live on $500,000 a year?

    I'd live off the interest... that is more than i make now...

    February 6, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  140. Arnolfo santoro

    Like a wallstreet king.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  141. Robin, Tampa FL

    If I made $500,000 a year ... I would buy a house in cash, just because I could!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:44 pm |
  142. Jason

    $500,000 per year is about eight times the median household income in America. As a bank executive, I could support myself and seven other households in my neighborhood. Hey, with eight families, we may start our own country club.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:45 pm |
  143. Fred

    Between my wife and myself we make approximately $50,000.00 per year. In the small town in Montana where we live, that's about average.

    Hmmm, $500,000.00 P/Y. My goodness, what couldn't we do? !!!

    Southwest Montana

    February 6, 2009 at 6:45 pm |
  144. JDave


    We all know the more we make the more we spend. If I made the $500K per year, my spending would most likely go up to reflect that new income and if I lose that salary, I would have to cut my spending and sell off my assets.

    So...if you made 23 Million a year you wouldn't spend accordingly? I think most of us would which does not make these people any different than you, me and the rest of the world.

    I have issue with these executives not apprectiating where they came from. They came from our hard work and sweat and to spend our gift-bail out money from our tax dollars on golden toilets, jets and parties is criminal and they should be prosecuted for that, not for their past salaries.


    February 6, 2009 at 6:46 pm |
  145. Sid...Texas

    YES....$500,000 would definitely change my currently quiet life. I would spend at least $250,000 on women,liquor, expensive cars, and then waste the rest of it.....

    February 6, 2009 at 6:46 pm |
  146. Ron Powell, New Haven, CT

    Jack, I have to get by on $1,600 a month. If I were forced to live on $500,000 per year, my life, as I know it, would be at an end.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:46 pm |
  147. Linda, Tennessee

    I can only dream! ,
    The question is, Let them try living on $8,622.00 a year as I have to do, then ask them this question.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:47 pm |
  148. sandra

    I would love to live on $500,000 a year. my husband and myself together live on $17,000. Must m nice to be so rich while some people are pinching pennies juat to scrape by.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:48 pm |
  149. Claude in Kigali, Rwanda

    Hey Jack,
    I don't like to be forced to do what i don't want to do, but in this case I will be really happy to be forced to live on $500,000 a year, even more.
    But, I would vote republicans so they can cut taxes. That's not bad, Jack.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:48 pm |
  150. Larry

    Dare to dream that I would have that opportunity... I was raised to live within my means, not matter how much money I make. The excess of these executives is pathetic given how poorly they have performed at running their companies. And, while we're at it, it would be nice if republicans would own up to creating this problem because of de-regulation rather than pick apart the stimulus bill that helps us "normal" people.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:48 pm |
  151. sheldon

    Cabbage like that, I too would want a lot more tax cut in the bill.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:49 pm |
  152. Denise from Bozrah, Ct.

    Jack, I could probably buy a house, pay my bills, buy food and maybe even be able to afford health insurance! I might even be able to save some money, instead of living hand ot mouth!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:51 pm |
  153. Alex Burgess

    Jack, I've never been a fan of Big Brother telling me how much I have to make. Of course, in this economy, I'm willing to make a few sacrifices. I'll stop buying the name-brand ramen noodles, but I won't give up my weekly dinner at Morton's.
    Alex in Houston.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:52 pm |
  154. Larry Thacker Ky.

    Can I keep my foodstamps and medical card?

    February 6, 2009 at 6:55 pm |
  155. B-Koi Vancouver Island, BC

    I wouldn't be sitting in a one room apartment giving my humble opinion.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:55 pm |
  156. RAY from Michigan

    I think we could squeek by with a $360,000 increase.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:55 pm |