830 Times


One of the tidbits of information that has always stayed with me is that there was a time in the USA when the CEO/President of a company made, on average, about 40 times what their median worker made. A new report, described in a news article here, states that a survey of companies finds the average is now 830 times. That is what you heard--the average CEO/President of a company in this sample makes 830 times what their median worker makes.

For one company, it was 5,294%. Indeed, CEO pay and bonuses actually rose during the pandemic, even while these companies were laying off workers.

Is it time to ask whether capitalism is at the root of our societal decay? These examples of extreme inequality bolster that case, in my opinion. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat adds to that case in a recent editorial, where he asserts "the rise of expressive individualism and the decline of religion, marriage and the family, are driven by socioeconomic forces the right’s free-market doctrines actively encourage."

More: "It’s more that the wealth this dynamism piles up, the liberty it enables and the technological distractions it invents, let people live more individualistically — at first happily, with time perhaps less so — in ways that eventually undermine conservatism and dynamism together. At which point the peril isn’t markets red in tooth and claw, but a capitalist endgame that resembles Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” with a rich and technologically proficient world turning sterile and dystopian."

I'd also suggest capitalism contributes to the rot we see by insisting "you can buy anything in this world with money"--sex, body parts, children, etc. As we monetize things that should be kept sacred, as we bless anything that makes money, as we make "economic choice" paramount for there is no one to say what is wrong with any choice whatsoever, we embrace the most horrendous sins imaginable.

Capitalism has given us tremendous--even obscene--income inequality, sterility (the US birth rate is dropping precipitously), and the tolerance of income-generating activities that should never be tolerated. Unless these predispositions are checked by wise government, capitalism will be the spiritual ruin of us all.

One possible example of how to do this is the recently proposed "Tax Excessive CEP Pay Act. "The "Tax Excessive CEO Pay Act" would penalize companies that pay CEOs or other highest paid employees 50 times more than the median pay for workers. If the median employee pay was $55,000 per year, a CEO could still make up to $2.75 million before the penalty kicked in."

About this bill, Bernie Sanders commented, "Incredibly, if income inequality had remained the same as it was in 1975, the average worker in America would be making $42,000 more than he or she is earning," Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, said during a hearing Wednesday on income inequality. "Instead, as the number of billionaires explodes, the average worker in America is now making $32 a week less than he or she made 48 years ago."

It's a start, but capitalism seems to inexorably morph into a society focused on hedonism, and not on the human future (whether we look at birth rates, the environment, or peace). I'm feeling pessimistic tonight . . .