By Chapter 180 member, Jackson Shepherd
What is one of the biggest threats to our democracy?
There was a report done in 2018 that I think points to one of the most important issues we need to deal with to secure our future.
I would suggest to all that are reading this, to take a look at the Institute for Policy Studies: 25th Annual Executive Excess Report. If however, you do not have the time, let me try my best to sum it up for you:
First it is important to note, a painfully obvious fact, that most Americans believe (74% according to a Stanford University nationwide survey) that CEOs are paid too much compared to the average worker.
More than 66% of the top 50 federal contractors and the top 50 federal corporate subsidy recipients paid their CEO over 100 times their median workers’ pay in 2017. Contrast that with the fact that the President of the United States salary is 5 times the average federal government employee.
Contractors and Corporations with the largest pay gaps include: YUM Brands (benefiting from a $7.25 million taxpayer-backed loan to finance expansion of KFCs and Pizza Huts in Mongolia) CEO making 1,358 times their median employee; The Geo Group, primary contractor for immigrant family detention centers, took $663 million in contracts and paid their CEO $9.6 million, 271 times their median employee earns; American Airlines receives more than $16 million to operate out of small communities, paid their CEO $12.2 million, 195 times the firm’s median worker pay; Lockheed Martin, America’s largest federal contractor, where 97% of their annual revenue came from Uncle Sam, paid their CEO $22.9 million, 186 times their median employee.
The corruption of our democracy through money in politics is going to drive this country down quickly; looking at the top 100 political donors in the 2016 election, would you be surprised that 87 of them were current/former top executives? I know I wasn’t! We have allowed our government to be stolen from us. In most elections, the person that raises the most money will win. So it should be no surprise politicians spend most of their time seeking more money for their ‘war chest’ and that those who spend the most in their campaigns, get the most in return.
The report also covers 3 recommendations which you should check out, but to sum them all up: our taxpayer-raised money should be spent wisely and we should hold companies the government does business with accountable.
It makes no sense that a CEO can make over 100 times the median pay of a worker, and that same company pays wages so low that an employee has to get welfare, more taxpayer money, to survive. Some of these companies depend on taxpayer money for a majority of their business, we need to understand that we do have a voice that matters. There are cities giving away billions in tax cuts to get a company to do something there were already going to do, but to do it in their backyard. It might seem worth it, but these kinds of deals are leaving many empty handed. We need to make these financial elites feel our pressure and start being a government that uses its money not only economically but more importantly, morally.