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Via L.A. Land, the Associated Press is bringing us the latest chapter in the uplifting Horatio Alger story of CountryWide Financial Corp's Angelo Mozilo:

...under fire over the size of his potential payout from the proposed sale of his troubled mortgage company, [Mozilo] says he is forfeiting some $37.5 million in severance pay, fees and perks he was scheduled to receive upon his retirement.

$37.5 million? Hell's Bells! Remind me to flog my 401K advisor at the earliest opportunity.

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In addition to $36.4 million cash severance payments, Mozilo also walked away from $400,000 per year he was to be paid under an agreement to serve as a consultant to the company following his retirement, and perks including the use of a private airplane, the company said. [...]

Damon Silvers, associate general counsel of the AFL-CIO, which operates a Web site that tracks executive pay, said that by giving up his severance pay Mozilo ''seems to recognize that there's something wrong with this picture.''

''It would be best if Countrywide and Bank of America froze all of his compensation until a thorough inquiry could be completed as to exactly what happened at Countrywide,'' Silvers said, referring to allegations raised in some shareholder lawsuits filed last year that the company failed to warn investors about the depth of its financial troubles.

LABOR AGITATORS! I Knew it! Geeves! Geeves! I need you! Fetch me my Winchester! It's time we make these shiftless layabouts understand the value of hard work and earned compensation!
Mozilo, however, will still retain retirement benefits and deferred compensation that he has already earned, Countrywide said in a statement being released Monday.

Whew! And for a moment there, I thought Emma Goldman had won. So now that the rabble have been appeased, I wonder what Mr. Mozilo gets to keep?

Now, he'll leave with a pension plan and supplemental executive retirement plan that totaled $23.8 million as of December 2006, according to the most recent proxy statement the company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mozilo also accrued about $20.6 million in deferred compensation, according to the filing.

Apparently contacted while attending the International Association of Hubristic Jerks, Mr. Mozilo had this to say:
''I believe this decision is the right thing to do as Countrywide works toward the successful completion of the merger with Bank of America,'' [He] said in the prepared statement.

For those of you keeping score: The wrong thing would be to regulate the housing industry to prevent economy-wrecking bubbles, increase government oversight to stop predatory lending, and reign in CEO compensation to levels that actually reflect the benefit they bring to the company. The Right thing is to make sure that the insanely overcompensated con-artists in what remains of America's industries escape scrutiny at all costs. Ah, But Ain't That America?

In completely unrelated news, New Homes Sales are taking a nosedive faster than Lindsey Lohan as soon as she leaves rehab. Hold on tight people, 2008's going to be more fun than a barrel of monkeys standing in line at the unemployment office.

Photo by pigstyave via Flickr