CEO of Walmart Makes in One Hour What the Average Employee Makes In a Year: How Skyrocketing Inequality Is Hurting America
Continued from previous page
Another Post reporter notes that this year's executive pay packages are especially high because it's the last year before new regulations take effect, mandating “say-on-pay” shareholder votes on executive salaries. Brandon Rees of the AFL-CIO's office of investment told the Post that executives have been able to profit nicely off the stock options they received back in 2008, when the market was, of course, way down. “The stock options they received in 2008 have allowed many CEOs to profit for simply getting share prices back up to where they were.”
“Say-on-pay” votes may be nice, but they're hardly enough on their own to serve as equalizers. Of 2061 votes taken, only 33 have resulted in what the Post calls “sizable 'nay-on-pay'” votes. Executives aren't going to be reined in by stockholders, and both parties in Congress seem more likely to give them more tax breaks than take any significant action.
Whether it's social norms or political decisions that have changed, the system that we've got is working everyday people harder and harder for a smaller and smaller share of the pie. There may not be an obvious alternative yet, but how long will 90 percent of Americans be content with the squeeze?
Sarah Jaffe is a contributor to AlterNet and a freelance writer.