Career Calling

August 10, 2015

Income Inequality and Hard Work

 

Daily Kos features an article by Hunter on presidential candidate Rand Paul’s explanation for income inequality. The senator from Kentucky told Chris Wallace of Fox News: “The thing is, income inequality is due to some people working harder and selling more things.” Hunter asks an important question: How much is Senator Paul’s own success a matter of his hard work and how much of it is based on the great base of support built by his father’s decades of hard work? The same question could be asked about the Walton heirs.

From a different angle, how much harder do CEOs work than the average U.S. worker? According to the SEC (as cited in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune), some of Chicago’s CEOs must be working incredibly hard:

  1. James McNerney of Boeing earns $28.9 million annually, 611 times the average worker’s annual income.
  2. Peter Liguori of Tribune Media has annual compensation of $23 million, 487 times what the average worker makes.

The rest of the top ten Chicago CEO earn between $21 million and $15.6 million, which is also 466-331 what the average American worker earns.

My problem is not simply income inequality. When Senator Paul and other conservatives talk about hard work and “takers,” they disrespect the work done by millions of Americans. They project a divided society where the lucky few deserve wealth and security and most Americans live pay check to pay check in constant fear of losing a job and have little hope for the future. I don’t think the problem of income equality is simple to explain or solve. Dismissing it as a matter of hard work is insulting to all Americans.

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