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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 24, 2016
John Pilger
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
Jonathan Cook
The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine
Eric Draitser
Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism
Robert Fisk
The Sultan’s Hit List Grows, as Turkey Prepares to Enter Syria
Abubakar N. Kasim
What Did the Olympics Really Do for Humanity?
Renee Parsons
Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare
Alycee Lane
The Trump Campaign: a White Revolt Against ‘Neoliberal Multiculturalism’
Edward Hunt
Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific
George Wuerthner
The Big Fish Kill on the Yellowstone
Jesse Jackson
Democrats Shouldn’t Get a Blank Check From Black Voters
Kent Paterson
Saving Southern New Mexico from the Next Big Flood
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
Russell Mokhiber
Save the Patients, Cut Off the Dick!
Steven M. Druker
The Deceptions of the GE Food Venture
Elliot Sperber
Clean, Green, Class War: Bill McKibben’s Shortsighted ‘War on Climate Change’
Binoy Kampmark
Claims of Exoneration: The Case of Slobodan Milošević
Walter Brasch
The Contradictions of Donald Trump
Michael Donnelly
Body Shaming Trump: Statue of Limitations
Weekend Edition
August 19, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Hillary and the War Party
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Prime Time Green
Andrew Levine
Hillary Goes With the Flow
Dave Lindorff
New York Times Shames Itself by Attacking Wikileaks’ Assange
Gary Leupp
Could a Russian-Led Coalition Defeat Hillary’s War Plans?
Conn Hallinan
Dangerous Seas: China and the USA
Joshua Frank
Richard Holbrooke and the Obama Doctrine
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail