Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Eliminate Billionaires

They are a clear and present danger to the survival of the United States economy and democracy.

Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Money:

Won’t somebody think about the plutocrats?

There are millionaires, there are billionaires, and then there are the people who earn over a billion dollars in a single year. For the first time ever, the financial research firm GMI Ratings has found two CEOs making over $1 billion in annual income, according to the firm’s 2013 CEO Pay Survey.

The highest paid CEO in America last year was Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who raked in nearly $2.3 billion over the course of 2012, according to the survey. The runner up was Richard Kinder of the energy company Kinder Morgan, who earned a mere $1.1 billion, less than half of Zuckerberg’s income. Sirius XM’s Mel Karmazin came in a distant third, collecting only a little over $255 million. GMI Ratings surveyed over 2,200 top executives across the country in order to establish its rankings, according to a statement from the firm. Overall, the survey found that base salaries rose 2.9%, while total median compensation increased a healthy 8.47% between 2011 and 2012. Other studies have shown that non-CEO Americans have not seen a commensurate increase in their income over the past year. For example, the U.S. Census’ latest report on income and poverty found that overall household income in 2012 was “not statistically different from the levels in 2011.”

The gap between skyrocketing CEO pay and relatively stagnant compensation for everyone else has been widening for decades. While annual CEO compensation increased by 726.7% between 1978 and 2011, average worker compensation only went up 5.7% during the same time, according to a 2012 study by the Economic Policy Institute.
Let’s repeat that last one.

Changes in compensation, 1978-2011

CEO’s: 726.7%

Workers: 5.7%

Hey, the number behind the decimal point is the same. A fair system after all!
Zuckerberg pays maybe 10 percent in taxes on that $2.3 Billion he rakes in every year, leaving him $2.07 billion every single year.

I can't imagine trying to spend $2 billion each and every year. And of course he doesn't spend it - if he did, he could probably give a significant boost to the U.S. economy.

But instead he surely socks it away in some foreign tax haven, where the U.S. economy and government that created the financial and internet infrastructure that supports his $2.3 Billion annual income gets next to zero benefit from the billion-dollar gifts we have lavished on Zuckerberg and his ilk.

If we taxed Zuckerberg say 90 percent on his earnings over $1 billion, that would be $900 million direct to American taxpayers every year. Zuckerberg probably wouldn't even notice.

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