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Americans Don’t Know How Bad Wage Inequality Is; Barsamian Explains at VC 10/2

October 1, 2014

140926_$BOX_PercentWealthOwned.png.CROP.original-originalDid you know that in California 50% of the people make less than $50,000 a year and that 50% make more? Or that if you make over $433,000 a year you’re in the top 1%? (In New York, it’s $511,000). That’s according to US Census data compiled in an article and via links from Business Insider.

Further, according to this report on CEO pay published  just over a year ago,

The modern history of CEO compensation is as follows, starting in the 1960s. Even though the stock market (as measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Index and shown in Table 1) fell by roughly half between 1965 and 1978, both measures of CEO pay increased by 78.7 percent. Average worker pay saw relatively strong growth over that period (relative to subsequent periods, not relative to CEO pay or pay for others at the top of the wage distribution). Annual worker compensation grew by 23.7 percent from 1965 to 1978, only about a third as fast as CEO compensation growth over that period.

CEO compensation grew strongly throughout the 1980s but exploded in the 1990s and peaked in 2000, increasing by more than 200 percent just between 1995 and 2000. Chief executive pay peaked at around $20 million in 2000, a growth of 1,279 percent (options realized) or 1,390 percent (options granted) from 1978. This increase even exceeded the growth of the booming stock market, the value of which increased 513 percent as measured by the S&P 500 or 439 percent as measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Average from 1978 to 2000. In stark contrast to both the stock market and CEO compensation growth, private-sector worker compensation declined a startling 3.6 percent over the same period.

Or to put it another way using research from Michael I. Norton,

In the 1960s, the typical corporate chieftain in the U.S. earned 20 times as much as the average employee. Today, depending on whose estimate you choose, he makes anywhere from 272 to 354 times as much. According to the AFL-CIO, the average CEO takes home more than $12 million, while the average worker makes about $34,000. (Read more: http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2014/09/americans_have_no_idea_how_bad_inequality_is_new_harvard_business_school.html#ixzz3EsIK98RV)

Or, check out this information or these viral videos which powerfully illustrates on wealth distribution in the US and in the world. In fact, this video is based on research that Michael I. Norton did in 2011 about how people think wealth should be distributed, how they think it is, and how it actually is–that’s the graph above, too.

If you didn’t know how unequal wealth distribution is in the US OR how much CEOs should make, you’re not alone.

In the Slate article cited above, “Researchers Sorapop Kiatpongsan and Michael I. Norton asked 55,000 people around the world how much they thought CEOs in made compared with the average low-skill factory worker, and how much they should make” and they found that people consistently underestimated the wage gap. According to the Slate article,  “The median American guessed that executives out-earned factory workers roughly 30-to-1—exponentially lower than the highest actual estimate of 354-to-1. They believed the ideal ratio would be about 7-to-1.”

Want to learn more about wealth distribution, inequality, and the role of capitalism? If you’re in the Ventura County area, you’re in luck.

David Barsamian, Founder and Director of Alternative Radio www.Alternativeradio.org will give a FREE Public Lecture on “Inequality and Capitalism” at Thursday, Oct. 2nd, at 12:30–1:45 PM in the Ventura College Performing Arts Center, 4700 Loma Vista Road, Ventura, CA 93003.

Publicity for the event states that “The U.S. has the distinction of being the most unequal of all developed countries. During the past four decades inequality increased and the gaps between rich and poor have not been seen since the Gilded Age over a century ago. While the one-tenth of one percent of the population is overloaded with stocks, bonds, hedge funds, cash and property, the working class, if they even have a job, has been impoverished. Food and rent take up much of their paltry take home pay. Tens of millions are dependent on food stamps and do not have health insurance.”

It continues to say the speaker, investigative journalist David Barsamian “has altered the independent media landscape, both with his weekly radio show Alternative Radio -now in its 28th year- and his books with Noam Chomsky, Eqbal Ahmad, Howard Zinn, Tariq Ali, Richard Wolff, Arundhati Roy and Edward Said. …His best-selling books with Chomsky have been translated into many languages. He lectures on world affairs, imperialism, the state of journalism, censorship, the economic crisis and global rebellions. He is winner of the Media Education Award, the ACLU’s Upton Sinclair Award for independent journalism, and the Cultural Freedom Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation. The Institute for Alternative Journalism named him one of its Top Ten Media Heroes.”

For more information, please contact Dr. Corrina McKoy: cmckoy@vcccd.edu and Dr. Ara Khanjian: akhanjian@vcccd.edu

And of course if you’re one of my students, this would work for extra credit and certainly give you some ideas for content for your papers!

action.retrievefileIf you are a blogger, please consider #BlogActionDay Thurs Oct 16: “Inequality is the theme of Blog Action Day this year and those who will be impacted by climate change first and worst are also those who suffer due to unconscionable levels of inequality. It’s important that we stand with these people and for our planet everyday, not just on October 16th. Blog Action Day was created to do more than rally voices, but to have impact. We can have impact today if we act together and raise our voices as one. Please join us. “

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 1, 2014 1:27 pm

    Wow. Just wow.

    On Wed, Oct 1, 2014 at 1:15 AM, art predator wrote:

    > Gwendolyn Alley aka Art Predator posted: ” Did you know that in > California 50% of the people make less than $50,000 a year and that 50% > make more? Or that if you make over $433,000 a year you’re in the top 1%? > (In New York, it’s $511,000). That’s according to US Census data compiled > in an ar”

  2. October 1, 2014 10:25 pm

    Reblogged this on whisper down the write alley and commented:

    Read this blog post and attend this event Thurs 10/2 at 1230 and the write about it for extra credit or to make up an absence…

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