Wednesday’s settlement is further evidence of the reassertion of the aristocratic principle in contemporary capitalist society: there is one set of laws for the vast majority, the working people, and an entirely different legal framework for the financial oligarchs—one that can be summed up with the phrase “Anything goes
US CEO pay hits record high
US CEO pay hits record high
By Nick Barrickman
A new study released by executive pay research firm Equilar and published earlier this month by the New York Times shows that compensation for chief executive officers for the largest US companies hit a new record in 2014.
25 May 2015
The top 200 highest-paid US CEOs each made an average of $22.6 million in compensation, including salaries as well as stocks, options, bonuses and other forms of pay.
This represented a significant increase over 2013’s average of $20.7 million. This figure was more than double that recorded by the firm in 2006, when it first began publishing numbers on executive compensation.
Together, the top 15 highest-paid chief executives took home over $1.1 billion in pay last year. Ranking highest on the list is David M. Zaslav of Discovery Communications, which the Times refers to as “the cable group behind Shark Week and shows like ‘Cake Boss.’” Last year saw Zaslav’s pay shoot up 368 percent to over $156,000,000, making him the highest-paid CEO on Equilar’s list since Tim Cook of Apple was awarded a package of over $378 million in 2011.
Nicholas Woodman, chief executive officer and founder of camera maker GoPro, saw his compensation package shoot up more than 4,000 percent in a single year, to over $77,400,000 after his company’s initial public offering last year, making him the fifth-highest-paid CEO.
Satya Nadella of Microsoft, who declared earlier this year that he would carry out a broad “restructuring plan” resulting in the layoff of 18,000 people—14 percent of its total workforce—raked in over $84,300,000 in 2014, making him the fourth highest-paid CEO.
Margaret C. Whitman of Hewlett-Packard saw her income climb by 11 percent to $19,612,164 last year after announcing over 50,000 job cuts since taking over as CEO. Similarly, Virginia M. Rometty of IBM saw a growth in pay of 28 percent to $17,942,400, even as her company carried out thousands of layoffs over the course of 2014.
Last year, the typical top-200 CEO pay package was roughly 339 times greater than the $51,939 median household income of a family in the United States. By comparison, the ratio in pay between a CEO and a worker in 1978 stood at about 30-to-1. According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the growth in CEO pay outstripped even the growth of the stock market throughout this period.
As lavish as the pay for the top CEOs was, their total compensation paled in comparison to hedge fund chiefs. According to another study released earlier this month by Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine, the top 25 highest-paid hedge fund managers made nearly $11.62 billion for themselves in the past year, amounting to roughly $500 million apiece.
The growth in CEO pay comes as companies sit atop the largest cash hoard in history, with US corporations alone holding $1.4 trillion on their balance sheets. Instead of using this money to invest, hire workers or raise wages, companies are using it to buy back shares, increase dividends and engage in an orgy of mergers and acquisitions. US corporations recently spent over $500 billion buying back their own stock, according to a report in the Financial Times.
The growth of CEO pay has continued despite claims by Democratic politicians and federal
OECD report: Global social inequality hits new record
By Gabriel Black
Income inequality in many developed countries has reached an all-time high, according to a report released Thursday by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The report also notes that growth of social inequality has been accompanied by the growth of part-time and contingent labor, particularly for younger workers.
23 May 2015
The wealthiest tenth of the population in OECD member countries now earn 9.6 times the income of the poorest 10 percent, up from nine times in the 2000s, and seven times in the 1980s.
“Inequality in OECD countries is at its highest since records began,” said OECD Secretary-General Angela Gurria. The OECD is composed of 34 advanced economies, including the United States, members of the European Union, Japan, Korea, Mexico and several others.
The report notes that in 2012, “the bottom 40% owned only 3% of total household wealth in the 18 OECD countries with comparable data. By contrast, the top 10% controlled half of all total household wealth and the wealthiest 1% owned 18%.”
The United States is the fourth most unequal country in the OECD, after Chile, Mexico and Turkey.
In the mid-1980s, the top 10 percent of US income earners took in 11 times more than the bottom 20 percent. This figure rose to 12.5 times in the mid-1990s, but in 2013, the US’s top 10 percent made 19 times more than the bottom 10 percent.
Wealth inequality in the United States is even greater than income inequality. In the US, the top 10 percent controls 76 percent of all the wealth, while the bottom 60 percent owns just 2.5 percent. The top five percent of households in the US have about 91 times more wealth than the average household.
For the OECD countries as a whole, the top 10 percent of the population owns 50 percent of the wealth. The middle 50 percent owns about 47 percent of the wealth, and the bottom 40 percent owns just three percent.
A large portion of this increase in income inequality has occurred in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. According to the report, in the United States, “between 2007 and 2013, net wealth fell on average 2.3 percent, but it fell ten-times more (26 percent) for those at the bottom 20 percent of the distribution.”
Income inequality in the United States is substantially worse than in any other developed country. For instance, while overall household income is 14 percent higher in the US compared to Canada and 25 percent higher compared to Germany and France, the report notes that “the average income of the bottom 10% in the US is 42% lower than in Canada and about 50% lower than in France and Germany.”
The OECD claims that one reason for this difference is that “redistribution through income taxes and cash transfers is considerably lower in the United States than in most other OECD countries.”
The report notes the particular hardship that the lowest-earning sections of the international working class have faced in the past 30 years. In the past three decades “low-income households have not benefited at all from income growth.” For instance, the bottom 10 percent of income earners in the United States lost 3.3 percent of their income since 1985, adjusted for inflation, while the average household income increased by 24 percent.
In Spain and several other countries most severely impacted by the financial crisis, this trend was even sharper. Spain saw the incomes of the poorest 10 percent of the population drop by roughly 13 percent every year between 2007 and 2011.
In addition to a massive growth in income and wealth inequality, the report shows that part-time work, self-employment and temporary contracts have become increasingly prevalent over the past two decades. The OECD notes that “Between 1995 and 2013, more than 50 per cent of all jobs created in OECD countries fell into these categories,” adding, “Low-skilled temporary workers, in particular, have much lower and unstable earnings than permanent workers.”
The OECD notes that young people are the most affected by this turn towards temporary, low-paying work. Forty percent of employed young people in the OECD countries, defined as those aged 18 to 34, do not have full-time regular work.
The OECD report calls on governments to take steps to reduce inequality, declaring that, “In recent decades, the effectiveness of redistribution mechanisms has been weakened in many countries.” It warns that “By not addressing inequality, governments are cutting into the social fabric of their countries and hurting their long-term economic growth.”
The reality, however, is that the growth of social inequality is the deliberate outcome of government policies, whose aim has been the enrichment of the financial oligarchy at the direct expense of the working population. No change in this state of affairs is possible within the framework of the capitalist system, whose essential characteristic is the incessant concentration of wealth at the top of society.
"The politicians don’t care about the working and young people. We have billions in student loan debts, but they don’t help us, but they give billions to the wealthy."
2 September 2013
The fraud of Obama’s “Student Aid Bill of Rights”
By Nancy Hanover
23 March 2015
The 43 million Americans who owe some $1.3 trillion in student loan debt were offered zero forgiveness. In fact, Obama does not propose even one measure to actually lessen the ever-escalating cost of college or encroach on the lucrative business of student loan debt. All the “rights” remain in the hands of the government, the banks and hedge funds.
“Meanwhile, millions of native-born Americans, especially men, have abandoned the job market altogether. The percentage of men aged 25 to 54 who are working or looking for work has dropped to the lowest point in recorded history.”