A Pile of Dough

at 12:35 AM

I still find the pay of corporate CEOs outrageous. The latest figures show, for example, that in 2010 the CEOs of major companies averaged $11.4 million for their year's work.  That was a 23 percent increase over their pay in 2009.

On the other hand, the pay of workers increased by a mere 2 percent to an average of only about $40,000. After factoring in inflation, their pay actually increased by only a pitiful 58 cents a week.

So, let me repeat. Workers' pay increased by 2 percent to an average of $40,000 in 2010, at the same time that CEO pay increased by 23 percent to an average of more than $11 million.

And we shouldn't forget the bonuses CEOs got on top of their sky-high pay. The bonuses totaled $126 million, up from $83 million in 2009. Are CEOs that much more important than ordinary folks, including those who provide vital services? That much more important than, say, firefighters, nurses, teachers or construction workers?

Ideally, anyway, ours is supposed to be an economic democracy, in which the country's great wealth and abundance is supposed to be spread more or less equally. I know. That's naive, of course, but couldn't we at least try to narrow the enormous gap between those at the bottom and those at the top of our economic pyramid?

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To describe the hugely compensated CEOs as greedy would be a gross understatement. Overall, their pay last year amounted to $2 trillion. And they took it all. Seems to me they could have used part of that massive pay package to create decent-paying jobs for those vastly less fortunate then they, and narrow the gap, if only a little, between their pay and workers' pay.

There may be at least a partial remedy, however, thanks to a new law that would give shareholders a vote on CEO pay and require companies to publicly disclose the ratio between the pay of their CEOs and their workers.

Congressional Republicans are promising to try to repeal the law, but labor and its Democratic allies are promising to keep that from happening. Wish them luck.

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With a Perspective, this is Dick Meister.

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