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January 29, 2014

Politics of Hate and Envy

by Walter Williams

Part of the progressive agenda is to create hate and envy. One component of that agenda is to attack the large differences between a corporation's chief executive officer's earnings and those of its average worker. CNNMoney published salary comparisons in "Fortune 50 CEO pay vs. our salaries".

 Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf's annual salary is $2.8 million. CNN shows that it takes 66 Wells Fargo employees, whose average salary is $42,400, to match Stumpf's salary. It takes 57 Wal-Mart employees, who earn $22,100 on average, to match CEO Michael Duke's $1.3 million. At General Electric, 44 employees earning $75,300 a year match CEO Jeff Immelt's $3.3 million salary. For people with little understanding, such differences seem patently unfair. Before touching on the fairness issue, let's look at some high salaries that progressives ignore.

Forbes lists the "Highest-Paid Football Players 2013". Drew Brees, quarterback for the Saints, earned $40 million. If the average Saints organization employee earned $45,000, it would take almost 900 of them to match Brees' salary. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady earned $31.3 million, and Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant earns $23.5 million for playing basketball. It would take the earnings of more than 1,200 workers making $45,000 a year to match the earnings of Brady and Bryant.

But the "unfair" salaries of sports players pale in comparison with movie stars. According to Forbes' listing of the highest-paid actors, Robert Downey Jr. earned $75 million from June 2012 to June 2013. Channing Tatum: $60 million. Hugh Jackman: $55 million. Let's suppose the cameraman working with Downey earned $60,000. It would take the salaries of 1,250 of them to equal his salary. Oprah Winfrey's 2012 salary came to $165 million, thousands of times what the earnings of people who work for her are.

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