|Compliments Kheel Center, Cornell University|
Today is Labor Day, a day that was launched in 1882 by the Central Labor Union of New York to celebrate the economic and social contributions of American workers. It is also the end of summer and the kids are back in school. It’s a time for backyard barbecues and general get-togethers to eat and drink to the accomplishments of the labor movement.
But there’s a fly in the ointment that sours the efforts of the working man and woman. It is that corporate executive pay outpaces any increases the labor force has experienced recently and promises to continue on a path for the future that is literally obscene. Just look at the facts below.
According to a study reported by David Kocieniewski of The New York Times, “At least 25 top United States companies paid more to their chief executives in 2010 than they did to the federal government in taxes.” Companies like eBay, Boeing, General Electric and Verizon. The Institute for Policy Studies report found that CEOs for those companies were paid an average of $16 million annually. If ever there was a case for sharing the wealth, this is it.
The study concludes that in the regulatory filings of 100 companies with the best paid chief executives, current U.S. policy rewards tax avoidance rather than innovation. There was “ample evidence” that suggests company heads are prioritizing avoiding taxes now more than ever. That means the working person ends up paying more taxes to compensate for the shortfall from corporations. Less pay, more taxes; sounds like the perfect environment for a Social Democracy.
Business leaders complain of the top corporate statutory tax rate of 35 percent. However, the report found that many of the country’s largest companies paid far less than this 35 percent figure. On the other hand, 18 of the 25 corporations had offshore subsidiaries where income can be sheltered. One author of the study concludes, “corporations are rewarding C.E.O.’s for aggressive tax avoidance.”
So as we celebrate another Labor Day, think of the GOP conservatives out there in Washington that champion big business and couldn’t give a crap about the workforce that has supported and promoted progress in this country for years. Elections are right around the corner and maybe the time has come to consider throwing every incumbent out of office and starting over.