The massive and growing gap between the American oligarchy and everybody else was cast in sharp relief by an Associated Press/Equilar pay study released Tuesday revealing that the average CEO of a large public company earned $10.5 million in 2013, the first time the average salary reached the eight-figure mark. A chief executive now makes roughly 257 times what an average worker makes -- an average worker defined as someone who can console himself or herself in the knowledge that stagnant pay is better than being laid off.
Seven of the CEOs in the earnings top 10 are in the communications field. Berkshire residents who recently found a hike in their Time Warner bill won’t be surprised to learn that Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes placed ninth on the list with an income of $32.5 million in 2013.
CEOs are paid heavily in stocks, and with the market booming, so are their earnings. Six years ago, of course, the stock market was falling through the floor until rescued by taxpayers. CEOs also benefit from boards of trustees who overpay people they regard as geniuses and/or are comprised of CEOs who raise each other’s pay through the stratosphere.
The pay of the average American worker went up by 1.3 percent last year, compared to the 8.8 percent hike for the typical CEO of a company listed in the Standard & Poor’s index. Outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries is keeping salaries low, as is high unemployment, which creates a pool of workers forced to settle for low salaries. Weakened unions hurt all workers, not just those with unions, as union gains lift all boats.
What should we expect in the future? More of the same and an increasingly widening gap. This will certainly be the case as long as so many Americans vote against their own economic interests by electing pols who oppose higher taxes on the wealthy while also opposing job-creation programs, extended unemployment benefits and other efforts to help the workers whose backs CEOs climb on to scale obscene heights of income.