FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

O California! My California!

by

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 dmacaray@earthlink.net

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

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
Ron Jacobs
Is Everything Permitted?
Cesar Chelala
The Sad Truth About Messi
Charles R. Larson
A Review of Mary Roach’s “Grunt”
David Yearsley
Stuck in Houston on the Cusp of the Apocalypse
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail