March 8, 2014

Letter: Wage inequality persists in U.S.

— Currently wages and salaries nationally as a portion of the economy is again near the record low of 2011

 Corporate profits are at an all-time record high. The ratio of corporate profits to wages is now higher than the during the war year of 1942.

Tim Cook’s total compensation as CEO of Apple is $378 million and it takes 6,258 of his employees to equal his salary. Michael Duke’s total compensation as CEO of Walmart is $17.6 million and it takes 796 of his employees to equal his salary.

McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson’s total compensation is $13.8 million and it takes 558 employees (working two jobs) to equal his

The average CEO’s salary on the S&P 500 equals 753 minimum wage workers.

What are you worth? It has always depended on skill level, demand for that skill, inflation and productivity. Starting in 1968, the minimum wage should have reached between $18 and $21.72 an hour by 2012 had it kept up with increases in worker productivity — the inflation rate during that period was 569 percent

In recent years wages only increased 0.4 percent for most families. Walmart spends $7.6 billion a year buying back stock which equals a $5.83 per hour raise for each employee.

Countries with high income inequality have fewer years of sustained growth that were shorter in duration and followed by deeper recessions followed by longer period of recovery.    Creating jobs is our immediate problem. The number one job-killer in America in recent years has been the recession not technology or offshoring — 5.3 million Americans work for foreign-owned companies. Resistance by Republicans to support bills that create jobs that have no foreign competition such as building roads, bridges and infrastructure slowed the employment of the least educated.

Now 74 percent of Georgians needing food stamps have an income and the need has increased 17 percent among full-time workers since 1980. The share of families that manage to rise out of the bottom fifth of earnings has fallen since the early 1980s.

Republican George Romney, Mitt’s father, understood that the rich needed to leave some of the economic gains of the nation “on the table” to share with the working class in order to sustain social cohesion and national unity.

Make no mistake, capitalism is not the fault but, it is self-indulgent fantasy to think somebody is worth 753 of the people that actually create the products.

David Bean