Take Fred Hassan: the former head of drugs company Schering-Plough shed a whopping 16,000 jobs in a merger with Merck, as part of which he received a $33m golden parachute and took his total earnings to $49.7m. Elsewhere Johnson & Johnson boss William Weldon abandoned the company's 'no more tears' philosophy and pocketed $25.6m, despite 8,900 layoffs. Hewlett-Packard's former boss Mark Hurd also got $24.2m after 6,400 job losses (though admittedly things haven't worked out too well for him in other areas).
By contrast, their less trigger-happy peers pocketed an average salary of $8.4m. Although we're not going to shed too many tears for them - they still earned on average 263 times the typical net pay of an American worker, during a painful time of falling house prices and soaring unemployment.
Of course, you could argue that successfully sorting out an under-performing company - which will often sadly mean job losses - is precisely why CEOs get the big bucks.
Still, American bosses should be careful. With US unemployment figures expected to show a drop of around 105,000 in August, and the overall jobless rate still around the 10% mark, Obama's administration will be under increasing pressure to crack down on this kind of conspicuous earning.
Although it could be worse - if they were French, they'd probably have been bossnapped by now.