Wealth in America
from another writer:

$103,000 per hour?

Louis XIV made chump change compared to our own corporate princes and kings.

In 2001, the CEO of my HMO was paid $76 million dollars. I took out my trusty calculator and determined that, were his income to be calculated like many inferior beings, his hourly rate for a 40 hour week works out to about $37,000/hr. Mind you, that's only what he "made" that one, single year. Plus, he just got a big fat tax cut.

Look below. What could possibly justify say, Sanford Weill earning $103,934/hr. at Citigroup? Mull that over for a second. $103 thousand dollars each and every hour. What on earth could one human being offer any enterprise that would be worth an obscene sum like this? This man made more eating lunch on any given day than most workers earn in an entire year.

Not to mention that he paid his entire Social Security contribution in the first 45 minutes or so of his work year.

So why, exactly does someone who "makes" $103,000 an hour need a tax cut?

These multi-million sums we hear about usually go over our heads. So here's a little chart of 2001 hourly rates of pay of the top 25 CEOs, based upon their total compensation for the year.

[You may need a monospaced font to see this correctly - Income source is Fortune Mag.]

CEO, Company               2001 Hourly Rate
Michael Dell, Dell Computer     $113,419
Sanford Weill, Citigroup       $103,934
Gerald Levin, AOL Time Warner   $79,033
John Chambers, Cisco Systems   $75,627
Henry Silverman, Cendant       $66,080
Louis Gerstner Jr, IBM         $49,716
Joseph Nacchio, Qwest Comm.     $46,821
Walter Sanders, Advanced Micro   $44,349
Steven Jobs, Apple Computer     $43,269
Jeffrey Skilling, Enron         $40,600
Philip Purcell, Morgan Stanley $37,049
John Welch, General Electric $36,743
Lawrence Ellison, Oracle         $36,169
Michael Eisner, Walt Disney     $35,023
John Gifford, Maxim Integrated   $29,525
Maurice Greenberg, American Int  $28,484
Arthur Levinson, Genentech     $28,428
Edward Whitacre, SBC Comm.       $27,009
William McGuire, UnitedHealth   $26,024
Richard Fuld Jr, Lehman Bros     $25,950
Thomas Siebel, Siebel Systems   $25,805
Ronald Zebeck, Metris Cos       $24,619
Wilfred Corrigan, LSI Logic     $24,584
William Esrey, Sprint FON       $23,576
James Morgan, Applied Materials $23,170

[One contrary viewpoint on this is some version of "they pay workers" "they create jobs" or "they earned their wealth".  All these statements are not really true, or not the whole truth, as other huge truths are ignored.  The fact that you believe this, when your grandparents 100 years ago would have laughed at such a lie (if they were workers), is evidence of the effectiveness of a long stealth campaign by media and government propagandists  to convince us of this "common knowledge".   It might be wise to memorize this, for arguments with fools, and to counteract the propaganda machine

1.  Corporations (and thus their CEOs) seek to pay people as absolutely minimal as possible, shove down labor costs as low as they can possibly go at any time.  Since people have to buy food water and shelter, there effectively IS no bottom to this.  It's a bottomless pit.  They push hard to eliminate any minimum wage -- which means, there is no minimum amount you can be legally paid, it can always be less.  That's supposedly a "free market" on labor costs, but these corps and individuals also lobby government to produce conditions which lead them to have even more of an upper hand over the labor market, the people. 

Humans start out with the short stick in the first place because we are hesitant to quit our jobs over to raise our wages, we have personal and emotional ties to work, we have fears of poverty and seek security, we don't have a team of attorneys writing our employment agreements, whereas large companies do have attorneys at work getting the best bargain they can, they have an economy of scale to find workers, and a corporation -- a capital-accumulation paper machine -- has no personal or emotional ties to it's labor units. 

Even though your boss may very well be a human being, corporate hierarchy means if he is told to eliminate expensive (loyal, long-term) workers, or politically-incorrect persons, he must obey. 

At the most extreme, this staging of conditions can consist of taxing earnings of workers, and using taxes to establish paramilitary death squads to crush dissent.  It may be a town dissenting about their water supply being destroyed, or starvation wages, or land theft, but they can be killed if they don't consent. 

The US mostly does that overseas on behalf of capital investors, but in the 1900's before concessions were made to Unions, the police served the same role in the US.  Periodically, police still do act as death squads, or pain squads, but not as brazenly as in US client states.  Think about what that means about your physical security .... 

Past Fed Chairman Paul Volcker instituted skyrocketing interest rates in the late 70's following Nixon's inflationary war, causing a harsh recession which shocked the labor markets.  It shocked small business too, but bigger business was more resilient and had more reserve and borrowing capability, and thus survived.  Workers were beaten down.  That is a major shift of wealth from the poor to the rich, not counting the fact that skyrocketing interest rates returned huge sums to the Fed for a time.  However, even though business suffered for a while, it recovered, whereas labor organization was almost completely destroyed. 

Corporate "unionism", like the International Chamber of Commerce, American Enterprise, Heritage Foundation, National Endowment for 'Democracy' (wink) and hundreds of others boomed.

Other government austerity measures, like shredding parts of the social safety net, cutting off Federal funding for the States, raising the costs of the necessities by de-regulating the energy monopoly, de-regulating usery (loan-shark interest rates) (at this moment with prime borrowing rates at less than 1% Sears has raised rates to 22%), allowing media consolidation to own us even more fully and push people to purchase more unnecessary gimmicks (and blame 'liberals' for instituting social programs), and many other measures  --- all this is about making the workforce "more flexible", more compliant, more obedient.

2.  Corporations (and thus their CEOs) seek to eliminate jobs as much as possible.   Jobs are not a form of benevolent charity.  To the degree that it is possible to run businesses with absolutely zero labor costs -- no workers whatsoever or using slavery as in the South --- or pay workers pennies a day -- most corporations would at least be forced to "follow the market" or perish.  Not only that, but big corporations with access to Washington actually lead the market there, by pushing US military intervention and the spending of billions in our tax revenues not to "spread democracy" but to crush and enslave other people, so it's safe to ship jobs there.  You might find this hard to believe, but zero labor costs improves the bottom line and thus improves stock prices.  When I say "crush and enslave", that includes killing maybe tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands or a few million people, until the survivors finally surrender.  This also reduces competition from smaller businesses in the US, that cannot or will not pack up their shop and move it to some repressed slave nation on another continent, and therefore have to fold or sell out.  With less competition, prices can go up. 

3.  Corporations and the very wealthy often contribute LESS taxes than workers, as a percent of income.  Having more income also means having more disposable income to hide.  The Timken family in Canton, OH, which just slashed the workforce, is suing the Federal Govt for millions in overpayments their ancestors made in the 1930's.  Bet they get it too, unlike blacks suing for reparations, who are laughed out of Washington.  Try that one yourself. 

4. The wealthy often did NOT earn their wealth, but inherited their wealth or the means to it.  Henry Ford may have worked hard in the beginning, then millions of workers made him rich converting steel and rubber to automobiles, but his family just pretty much walked into that.  Odds are, most corporate founders were either wealthy or associated with wealth from a young age.   Bill Gates mommy was an executive at IBM, which helped him get into a board meeting to sell the license to his Microsoft-DOS, a computer system he did not even possess at the time, but which he immediately bought for $23,000.  This means he had $23,000 laying around to buy it from the poor goof programmer.  The poor goof probably did get the best deal he could from Gates, unless he could get access into IBM.

5. The wealthy, even the few grassroots wealthy, USE the public resources even MORE than the poor or welfare recipients, use the land, air, sea, broadcasting spectrum, roads, military, forests, minerals, a host of things the government provides them for free, yet they avoid paying for it, preferring to have the public pay their way.   Military corporations even get the government to float "loans" to other countries for them to buy equipment, then the US writes off the loans, $9 billion in 1996. 


MAKING OUR KIDS PAY....In the past, one of the standard arguments against deficit spending was that it saddled our kids with enormous debts. This was obviously bad and irresponsible behavior.

But has anyone else noticed that it's becoming common to see conservatives turn this on its head and argue instead that deficit spending is OK because, after all, it's only fair that future generations should help pay for things that they are going to benefit from too? For example, our kids will benefit from a terror free world, so it's well and good that they pick up part of the tab for our current fight against terrorism. Ditto for building roads, procuring new military goodies, fighting AIDS, etc.

Oh, and our children will be richer than us anyway and thus better able to afford paying for this stuff. (Although I note that conservatives are notoriously unsympathetic to the "better able to afford" argument when it comes to higher tax rates on the super rich billionaires and multi-millionaires.)

Anyway, the upshot is that deficits aren't just a necessarily evil, they are positively virtuous since they spread costs between generations. I did a double take when I first saw someone propose this obviously self-serving and specious argument seriously, but since then I've seen it several more times. Do you suppose it's on its way to becoming a standard conservative talking point?