Gross-ups are an absurd example of CEO-only behavior. Sure, middle managers can receive them for comparatively minor expense reimbursements. But when middle managers and secretaries and traders—and even most senior executives—receive bonuses or sell restricted stock, they pay taxes on the proceeds. It's only CEOs who get to duck the taxes on their generous payouts.
It is said that death and taxes are the only two sure things in life. Gross-ups have allowed CEOs of large companies to effectively cheat the latter—on their shareholders' dimes. It's a safe bet that if science comes up with a super-expensive procedure that can cheat death, the CEOs of big public companies will find a way to get it written into their employment agreements—tax free.