Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

O California! My California!


Two state senators, Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) and Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), introduced SB 1372, a landmark bill that would help bridge the gap between rich and poor. What SB 1372 would do is raise the corporate tax on any company whose CEO makes more than 100 times the median rate of its employees, and lower the tax on any company whose CEO makes less than 100 times the median rate.

California’s corporate tax rate is currently 8.84% of a company’s net income. With passage of SB 1372, that rate could drop to as low as 7% if the company’s CEO were paid no more than 25 times as much as the average worker, but could rise to as high as 13% if the CEO were paid more 400 times the average worker. In 1965, CEOs made 20 times what the average worker made, but by 2012, that ratio was 273 to 1.

Let’s say a company’s median rate for workers is $40,000 a year. No one is asking their CEO to live on $400,000 a year, because that’s only 10 times the median rate, and that would be, well, unthinkable. What SB 1372 is asking is that this CEO consider trying to make it on $4,000,000 a year. He or she can still own the gated home, the boat and the luxury cars. The kids can still go to private schools. All they are being asked to do is piss on the average worker from a lower height.

Mind you, passage of SB 1372 wouldn’t force anyone to do anything. Hey, it’s a free country. If a company wants to overpay its CEO, it can still do so; no one is going to stop them. But overpaying them is going to entail paying more in corporate taxes, which shouldn’t be a problem, because if a company insists on paying its CEO an exorbitant salary, it can certainly afford to pay more taxes.

Of course, opponents to this bill have already presented a two-pronged argument: (1) SB 1372 amounts to a “redistribution of wealth” which would turn California into a Trotskyite/socialist/communist state, and (2) all it would succeed in doing is driving even more businesses out of the state.

As for “redistribution” of wealth,” it does nothing of the kind. The only thing SB 1372 does is offer an incentive. If you want a sizeable tax break, you need to rethink what you’re paying the Big Enchilada. If your median worker earns $40,000 a year, and you wish to take advantage of that tantalizing 7% in corporate tax, you need to pay your CEO no more than $1 million a year. It’s your choice. No one is forcing you. How is that a “redistribution of wealth”?

As for driving businesses out of California, well, that could present a messy PR problem. When a company whose workers earn an average of $40,000 a year announces that it must leave California because it wants to continue paying its CEO $8 million a year (200 times the median), there’s going to be some blowback. One would hope that such a naked declaration of greed would give organized labor enough gas to fly to the moon.

Speaking of labor, the ratio between workers and CEOs corresponds directly to the decline in union membership. That’s because there is no mechanism on earth more effective in raising the wages of working people than labor unions. But even with the middle-class shrinking, corporations have convinced people that unions are the problem, not the solution. That has to be the greatest propaganda coup in a hundred years.

David Macaray, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor,” 2nd edition), is a former union rep.  He can be reached at

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is “Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories.” He can be reached at

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 28, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Inside the Invisible Government; War, Propaganda, Clinton & Trump
Andrew Levine
The Hillary Era is Coming: Worry!
Gary Leupp
Seven World-Historical Achievements of the Iraq Invasion of 2003
Paul Street
Standing Rock Water-Protectors Waterboarded While the Cleveland Indians Romped
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel: 1984 Everlasting
Michael Brenner
American Foreign Policy in the Post-Trump Era
Luciana Bohne
Crossing the Acheron: Back to Vietnam
Robert Hunziker
The Political Era of Climate Refugees
Stephen Cooper
Alabama’s Last Execution was an Atrocity
Ira Helfand
Nukes and the UN: a Historic Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons
Pete Dolack
Work Harder So Speculators Can Get More
Joyce Nelson
Canadians Launch Constitutional Challenge Against CETA
John Laforge
US Uranium Weapons Have Been Used in Syria
Paul Edwards
The Vision Thing ’16
Arshad Khan
Hillary, Trump and Sartre: How Existentialism Disrobes the Major Presidential Candidates
Peter Lee
It’s ON! Between Duterte and America
Chris Zinda
The Bundy Acquittal: Tazing of #oregonstandoff
Joseph Grosso
Starchitects in the City: Vanity Fair and Gentrification
Patrick Carr
Economic Racial Disparity in North Carolina
David Swanson
Public vs. Media on War
Chris Gilbert
Demo Derby in Venezuela: The Left’s New Freewheeling Politics
Binoy Kampmark
Nobel Confusion: Ramos-Horta, Trump and World Disorder
Stephen Cooper
Alabama’s Last Execution Was an Atrocity
Sam Albert
Kids on Their Own in Calais: the Tip of an Iceberg-Cold World
Binoy Kampmark
Nobel Confusion: Ramos-Horta, Trump and World Disorder
Russell Mokhiber
Lucifer’s Banker: Bradley Birkenfeld on Corporate Crime in America
Ron Jacobs
Death to the Fascist Insect! The SLA and the Cops
Cesar Chelala
Embargo on Cuba is an Embarrassment for the United States
Jack Smith
And the Winner Is….
Ken Knabb
Beyond Voting: the Limits of Electoral Politics
Matt Peppe
An Alternate Narrative on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
The Israeli Trumpess
James Rothenberg
Water Under the Bridge
Louis Yako
Remembering Rasul Gamzatov: The Poet of the People
Brian Cloughley
The US, NATO and the Pope
When Nobody Returns: Palestinians Show They are People, Too
Louis Proyect
The Outsider-Insider: Isaac Babel’s Big Mistake
Simon Jones
The Human Lacunae in Ken Loach’s “I, Daniel Blake”
Martin Billheimer
Now and Then, Ancient Sorceries
October 27, 2016
Paul Street
An Identity-Politicized Election and World Series Lakefront Liberals Can Love
Matthew Stevenson
Sex and the Presidential City
Jim Kavanagh
Tom Hayden’s Haunting
CJ Hopkins
The Pathologization of Dissent
Mike Merryman-Lotze
The Inherent Violence of Israel’s Gaza Blockade
Robert Fisk
Is Yemen Too Much for the World to Take?