Chief executives the nation over have spent this past spring scheming to keep their pockets stuffed while their workers suffer wage cuts, layoffs, and even death by COVID-19. The personal fortunes these execs have pocketed have corrupted our politics and turned our legislatures into dysfunctional chambers that can seldom accomplish anything that doesn’t involve enhancing the financial well-being of already wealthy people. Wealthy execs, in their haste to become ever wealthier, are even privileging their own financial futures over our health. The factories and plants they run are forcing workers to labor without adequate protections or social distancing. The pharmaceutical firms they manage are refusing to share research clues on possible coronavirus cures for fear of losing out on incredibly lucrative patents for vaccines and treatments.
The typical FTSE 100 CEO will have earned as much as the average UK worker earns in a year by 5pm on January 6 2020 – £29,559 for 33 hours of work, according to data compiled by the High Pay Centre think tank. By the close of the year, the same CEO would have earned £3.46 million – roughly 117 times the average wage in the UK. This is a staggering differential. If you believe that excessive executive pay is a problem, this statistic illustrates the point perfectly.
Politicians often gab about the “private sector” and the “public sector,” as if these two categories of economic activity operated as two completely separate worlds. In reality, these two sectors have always been deeply intertwined. How deeply? Every year, the federal government spends about half a trillion dollars buying goods and services from the private sector. State and local government contracts with private-sector enterprises add hundreds of billions more. And private-sector companies don’t just receive contracts from our governmental entities. They receive all sorts of subsidies — billions upon billions of dollars in “corporate welfare.” Where do all these dollars come from? They come from us, America’s taxpayers. Without the tax dollars we provide, almost every major corporation in the United States would flounder.
Across the United States, workers are being told by Democrats and Republicans alike that there is “no money” for decent wages, pensions or health care. Teachers from West Virginia to Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona and other states are rebelling against near-poverty wages and years of school cuts only to be told by the politicians and union leaders that their demands are “unrealistic” and cannot be met. But a series of reports on CEO pay, bank profits and corporate cash released over the past week reveal that corporate America and the financial oligarchy are wallowing in record levels of wealth. The Washington Post reported on Friday that, boosted by the tax cut for corporations and the rich passed in December, the biggest US firms “find themselves sitting on an Everest of cash,” with “profits pouring in faster than they can find productive ways to spend it.”
Fat Tuesday is Mardi Gras, a day of revelry, gluttony, intoxication and showers of shiny plastic beads. It is the party to end all parties because it’s followed by Ash Wednesday, when Lenten sacrifices commence. Fat Cat Tuesday is the day – Jan. 2, 2018 – on which the boards of directors of America’s biggest corporations handed their CEOs more money than those same CEOs would deign to pay their workers for an entire year of labor, 260 days. It was a day of revelry, gluttony and private jets for CEOs and worthless shiny plastic beads for workers. The occasion is commemorated in Britain as well. There, though, it took CEOs three days to accrue more compensation than the total annual wages of the typical worker. That’s because American CEO pay takes the cake – and we’re not talking Mardi Gras King Cake containing a tiny plastic baby Jesus figure because no Son of God would be associated with U.S. CEOs’ sinfully gluttonous pay packages.
By Alicia Freeze for Seven Days. The average Vermonter makes about $50,000 a year. Executive directors of Vermont nonprofits make an average of $83,000, according to the group Common Good Vermont. Yet the heads of nonprofit hospitals in Vermont earn around $550,000 on average. Last year, the University of Vermont Medical Center CEO made more than $2 million. Hospital board members say their executive pay is in line with competitors and makes up a small portion of their budget. But not everyone buys that defense. "The public is struggling to pay for health care," said Sen. Chris Pearson (P/D-Chittenden). "To see that the CEO of our hospital is getting $2 million ... it's just way out of whack with the Vermont economy."
By Sarah Anderson for Inequality - The CEOs who made up two White House advisory councils have fled like rats on a sinking ship. Their exodus — a dramatic rebuke of Donald Trump — came within 48 hours of the incendiary August 15 press conference where the President praised some of the participants of last week’s white supremacist rampage in Charlottesville, Virginia. But many of the CEOs on these councils had been under heavy pressure to disavow Trump’s agenda of hate and racism even before Charlottesville. That pressure came from grassroots activists. The Center for Popular Democracy, Make The Road New York, New York Communities for Change, and several other immigrant and worker advocates had led that activist campaign, targeting the leaders of nine major corporations affiliated with the Trump administration. The campaign, working through a web site called Corporate Backers of Hate, detailed the connections between the nine companies and the Trump administration and encouraged people to send emails to both the CEOs involved and members of their corporate boards. Throughout the spring and summer, the campaign also held protests against the companies, including a civil disobedience action at the JPMorgan Chase headquarters on May Day...
By Jake Johnson for Common Dreams - While the Senate GOP's plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been denounced as potentially devastating to the poor, the sick, women, people of color, children, and those with pre-existing conditions, a new analysis published Monday finds that no matter what happens, the CEOs of large healthcare companies are likely to continue living lavishly. "The median household income in 2015 was $56,515, which the average healthcare CEO made in less than a day." Bob Herman, Axios Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010, the "CEOs of 70 of the largest U.S. healthcare companies cumulatively have earned $9.8 billion," according to a report by Axios's Bob Herman. Herman goes on to add that the CEOs' earnings "far outstrip[ped] the wage growth of nearly all Americans." "The richest year [for healthcare CEOs] was 2015, when 70 healthcare CEOs collectively made $2 billion," Herman notes. "That was an average of about $28.5 million per CEO and a median of about $17.3 million per CEO. The median household income in 2015 was $56,515, which the average healthcare CEO made in less than a day."
By David Pomerantz for Energy and Policy Institute - The Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs that lobbies for policies that support the fossil fuel industry, is attempting to restrict shareholders’ rights as utilities and fossil fuel companies face increasing scrutiny from investors over climate change. Fossil fuel and utility CEOs, facing unprecedented levels of activism from shareholders who are worried about the risks posed to their investments by climate change, have responded by trying to pass legislation that would curtail investors’ rights to register their concerns. The main purpose of The Financial CHOICE Act is to gut the consumer protections passed by the Dodd-Frank law of 2010, but a section of the bill would produce a significant change in what kind of shareholders are able to file resolutions for changes in the company. Currently, any shareholder that owns 1 percent of a company, or $2,000 worth of shares – hardly a paltry sum, but one that is within the realm of possibility for many investors – is able to file shareholder resolutions calling on the company’s management to make changes. The resolutions are generally not binding, but when they garner significant support, say over 20%, management tends to take them as serious signals of shareholder sentiment, and often respond accordingly.
By Sam Pizzigati for Other Words - Making breakthroughs for consumers is hard, companies have found. But making fortunes for CEOs is easy. Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric since 2001, is retiring. The 61-year-old will be making a well-compensated exit. Fortune magazine estimates that Immelt will walk off with nearly $211 million, on top of his regular annual pay. Immelt’s annual pay hasn’t been too shabby either. He pulled down $21.3 million last year, after $37.25 million in 2014. But Immelt’s millions don’t come close to matching the haul that his predecessor Jack Welch collected. Welch’s annual compensation topped $144 million in 2000. He stepped down the next year with a retirement package valued at $417 million. What did Immelt and Welch actually do to merit their super-sized rewards? What did they add to a GE hall of fame that already included breakthroughs like the first high-altitude jet engine (1949) and the first laser lights (1962)? In simple truth, not much at all. “We bring good things to life,” the GE ad slogan used to proudly pronounce. Not lately.
By Sarah Anderson for IPS - If President-elect Donald Trump succeeds in cutting the top marginal tax rate from 39.6 percent to 33 percent, Fortune 500 CEOs would save $196 million on the income taxes they would owe if they withdrew their tax-deferred funds. Unlike ordinary 401(k) holders, most top CEOs have no limits on annual contributions to their tax-deferred accounts. In 2015 alone, Fortune 500 CEOs saved $92 million on their taxes by putting $238 million more in these accounts than they could have if they were subject to the same rules as other workers.
By Steve Rendall for FAIR - On CNN (12/2/16), anchor Carol Costello introduced a story about how Donald Trump is convening a panel of prominent CEOs to consult with on a monthly basis on issues including job growth and taxes. CNN reporter Christina Alesci reported excitedly that the panel, assembled by the Blackstone Group’s CEO Stephen Schwartzman, will be made up of a “who’s who” of “bipartisan CEOs,” including GM’s Mary Barra, Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, Disney‘s Bob Iger, Doug McMillon of Walmart and Jack Welch, former GE CEO.
By Sarah Anderson for Inequality - After being raked over the coals for one of the biggest scams in Wall Street history, Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf has agreed to forfeit $41 million in compensation. Astoundingly, this is the first time a Wall Street banker has had to disgorge any of his ill-gotten pay. But don’t get out the Kleenex box quite yet. In the past three years, Stumpf pocketed nearly $200 million in compensation
By David Dayen for The Intercept - LAST WEEK, WELLS FARGO CEO John Stumpf testified before the Senate Banking Committee after the bank paid fines for creating over 2 million fake customer accounts to boost their sales growth statistics. Stumpf, under fire from senators demanding that the bank claw back executive bonuses as punishment for the scandal, insisted that any such decision would be made by a committee of the board of directors that handles compensation issues.
By Helaine Olen for Slate - Expect fireworks in Washington on Tuesday morning. That’s when John Stumpf, the chairman and chief executive officer of Wells Fargo, is expected to appear in front of the Senate Banking Committee to answer questions about how, exactly, the corporate culture at his bank went so awry that employees opened an estimated 2 million bank and credit card accounts for customers without their permission.