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Income of very richest shot up by 281% since 1979

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In the wake of BP’s calamitous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, CEO Tony Hayward is stepping down, but he will be receiving a severance package amounting to an estimated $18 million.

“That’s what he gets for presiding over a record oil disaster and massive losses,” commented Chris Hayes, Washington editor of The Nation, who was guest hosting MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show on Tuesday.

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Hayes went on to note, however, that “Tony Hayward’s $18 million payoff is an absolute pittance compared to the kind of cash top CEO’s are raking in.” He cited a recent Wall Street Journal story which revealed that over the past decade, the two highest-paid CEOs at public companies each took in over a billion dollars in compensation, while others in the top 25 received compensation in the hundreds of millions.

What makes these pay rates really “infuriating,” says Hayes, is that “CEO pay is both a cause and partly a symptom of the staggering increase of inequality in this country.

Hayes cited a study recently released by the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities which shows that if you’re in the bottom 20% of earners, “you’re making only 16% more today than you would have in 1979.” If you’re in the middle fifth, you’re making 25% more. “But the top fifth of earners in this country — they’re making 95% more.”

“And that’s not the really shocking part of this graph!” Hayes exclaimed. “Check this out. This is how much better the top 1% of Americans are doing now. The income of the very richest among us has shot up by 281% since 1979.”

“There’s a social pyramid in this country,” Hayes commented, “and as you climb it, you encounter a smaller and smaller group of people doing better and better, while everyone at the bottom stays where they were. And it’s precisely this kind of systematic inequality that incentivized the corporate fraud of the last decade.”

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“A select group of people are able to completely immunize themselves from the fate of the rest of the society,” Hayes concluded. “Our entire social and economic way of life in this country is broken and unfair and inequitable and we need to figure out a way to repair it.”

Noting that the George Bush tax cut for the wealthy is due to expire next January, Hayes suggested, “We could let it. What remains to be seen is whether the Democrats in Congress have the political will to take that step.”

This video is from MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast July 27, 2010.

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Angst-ridden Republicans should have acted when Trump put his reelection above national security concerns: conservative columnist

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Writing in the Washington Post this Thursday, columnist Jennifer Rubin says that Senate Republicans are in serious trouble, especially in light of the stimulus bill they rolled out this week.

According to Rubin, the Senate GOP is in dire straits because "they have allowed the anti-government, anti-science Trump sycophants to disclaim any interest in the bill, thereby handing the reins to Democrats."

Rubin writes that some Republicans saying they want to see essential workers being taken care of in the bill are speaking up too late. "If only they they had some power in February to remove the unfit and corrupt president from office, instead of leaving him there to purge witnesses from his administration, seek vengeance on foes, force out inspectors general and botch the response to the coronavirus," Rubin writes.

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Gunman seizes hostages in a bank in French port city of Le Havre

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A man armed with a gun was holding three people hostage in a bank in northern France on Thursday, officials said, and two police union sources said the gunman was believed to have Islamist ties.

An elite tactical unit of the French police was on its way to the scene in the port of Le Havre, police said.

A representative of the national police told Reuters the hostage-taker had initially seized six people at the bank, but two had subsequently been released. It was unclear if a third person was released or had escaped.

The police representative said the hostage-taker was a 34-year-old man with a history of mental health problems. The man's weapon was a handgun, police said.

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Facebook removes network of fake accounts that posed as Trump supporters

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Facebook said Thursday it took down accounts running a deceptive campaign out of Romania pretending to be Americans supporting US President Donald Trump ahead of the coming election.

The leading online social network removed 35 Facebook accounts, three pages, and 88 Instagram accounts as part of an ongoing fight against "coordinated inauthentic behavior," according to security policy head Nathaniel Gleicher.

"The people behind this network used fake accounts to pose as Americans, amplify and comment on their own content, and manage pages including some posing as President Trump fan pages," Gleicher said.

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