- CEOs in the US make over 350 times as much as the average employee, meaning an employee has to work a month to equal a top executive’s hourly wage.
- Though the average college graduate leaves school owing $35,200, presidents of some of the most expensive universities could erase a student’s debt every week.
- Compensation for health care executives rise almost twice as fast as health care costs, with some executives making 15 times as much as doctors caring for the sick.
- A professional athlete in a major sport—baseball, football, hockey, basketball— makes as much in a year as, at my present salary, I would make in 64 years.
Their incomes, I suppose, could be explained away by citing the monetary contributions these people make. They are only, they might say, taking their share of the pie. And yet their share is eight slices… before anyone else takes one.
Who can eat so much, want so much?
They counter that their expertise brings in so much more than they’re paid, and, as the elite of the elite and special in every way, they do what few can. Expressed as a percentage of their impact, they shout, “We’re bargains!”
To be fair, some of them might accept they work no harder than a single mother with two jobs or a middle manager logging 70 hours a week, but, really, it’s the ideas, the ideas!
No single mother has energy or time for ideas.
A few shrug shoulders at how crazy their compensation is. Yet, human nature being what it is, not many are ready to take less or give their money back. Money is abstract, no longer the same stuff some folks fret over. It’s easy to lose proportion, equity. It’s society—and not them—at fault.
They want what others like them earn. The scale stretches, higher and higher. Away from the rest of us.
I might not blame them if I made as much, but I don’t, so I do. I have no desires for myself—I make enough, more than many. I want no more.
Is it terrible that what I want is less for them? It’s an ugly wish, I’ve been led to believe. Everyone wants the possibility of earning so much. However unlikely wealth might be, the goal is a world where such riches are possible.
“As long as our civilization is essentially one of property,” Emerson said, “of fences, of exclusiveness, it will be mocked by delusions. Our riches will leave us sick; there will be bitterness in our laughter; and our wine will burn our mouth.”
The rest of society may say possibility must exist. Without the unfettered freedom to excel, they may say, no one will. I wonder if that can be so. Do we have no desires besides those that eliminate others’ desires? Do we have no aspirations greater than personal aspirations?
Perhaps if I made more, I might accept inequity. But I’m one of the undervalued and can’t help feeling differently.