Congratulations on that nice pay raise you got last year. A 7 percent hike — wow!
After 40 years of stagnant wages, that uptick can help you pay off some of your old credit card bills or get an upgrade on your 10-year-old pickup.
Oh, wait… you say you didn’t get such a raise? Oops, my mistake. It was the CEOs of corporate giants who reported to the Associated Press that they enjoyed a median jump of 7 percent last year. And, since their paychecks were already king-size, that amounted to an extra $800,000 in their take-home, jacking up their total yearly income to $12 million each. Bear in mind that “median” means half of the corporate bosses grabbed more than 7 percent. For example, David Zaslav, honcho of the Discovery television network, got a 207 percent boost in pay, raising his total take in 2018 to $129.5 million.
These lavish payouts to top-floor bosses, combined with a miserliness toward rank-and-file employees who actually produce the corporate wealth, are creating an untenable income disparity, stretching inequality in our Land of Egalitarianism to the snapping point. The pay gap between aloof CEOs and typical employees nearly doubled last year at a range of corporate giants, from PayPal to CVS pharmacy — and it tripled at Discovery. AP’s recent survey found that compensation inequality is now so extreme that a middle-wage employee at most major corporations would have to work 158 years to make as much as his or her chief executive was given last year alone. To amass as much pay as Zaslav pocketed in 2018, a typical Discovery employee would have to work 989 years!
[pullquote-1] When you hear corporate chieftains gloat that our economy is “booming,” ask yourself: A boom for whom?
Meanwhile, we have a president who measures America’s economic health by simply checking the price of corporate stocks. And that tells him the economy is great, for since he’s been in office, Wall Street has been whizzing!
Unfortunately, though, it’s whizzing on you and me. That’s because Wall Street is an inequality machine. Its rules allow top executives to jack up their own wealth by artificially inflating their corporation’s stock prices, and big investors favor corporations that offshore jobs, cut wages and otherwise knock down workers.
Worse, while he pretends to be a champion for America’s workers, he’s been a one-man working-class wrecking crew, systematically destroying employee rights and protections against the abuses of corporate bosses. On everything from overtime pay and the minimum wage to workplace safety and the right to form a union, Trump & Company has sided with corporate interests over working stiffs — essentially saying to workers: You’re on your own. Adios, chumps.
So, the economic “boom” that he so vaingloriously talks about is actually the sound of the middle-class crashing. That thunderous boom-boom-boom represents millions of Americans who’re living paycheck to paycheck, who have little or no savings and inadequate health coverage, who can’t afford the ripoff drug prices Big Pharma is being allowed to charge, who’re sinking in debt — and all they’re getting from Trump are his vapid political rallies, shouting “MAGA,” Make America Great Again.
Inequality doesn’t just happen — it’s caused by the deliberate actions of power elites. Far from reducing inequality, Trump has intentionally escalated the corporate war on working-class Americans. Under his regime, nearly half of all new income today is going to the wealthiest 1 percent.
Political sloganeering aside, America won’t be great again until all
Americans — not just millionaires — are actually doing great.
You can contact Hightower at jimhightower.com.