Is the United States exporting income inequality through shared conservative ideology?
According to data from the AFL-CIO, American CEOs earned 354 times the average wages of rank-and-file U.S. workers in 2012. Just a little bit askew. It is by a large margin the worst out of the 17 countries that were surveyed. As you knew beforehand, the United States is the reigning king of income inequality.
Unfortunately, western democracies have a fondness for royalty. In Canada for example, their CEOs are making 206 times the average worker and rising fast (thanks Harper.) In 2013 Canadian CEO Pay jumped 11%, which quadrupled everyone else. Oddly enough, Canadian CEOs have still not rebounded fully from the great recession when the average CEO salary peaked $200,000 higher. They’ll get there.
Switzerland CEOs came in third in the survey at 148 times the average salary, while Germany and Spain rounded out the top five at 147 and 127 respectfully.
Yes, America is still number one with a screaming bullet, but it’s bringing the developed world along for the ride. It’s hard to imagine that back in the 1970s the average CEO pay just about everywhere was only twenty times higher.
Alas, income inequality is not just about how much more the big shots make, it’s also about from whom our governments take. The conservative revolution of Ronald Reagan changed everything. He managed to shift the tax burden from the wealthy to the middle-class with ease and other countries quickly followed.
Reagan dropped the highest tax rate from 70% down to 28% (he did raise it up to 35% later). A couple years after this massive tax cut, Margaret Thatcher lowered Britain’s top rate from 60% to 40% and Canada’s Brian Mulroney introduce the GST which shifted a tax on manufactured goods to common consumers.
After Reagan fired 11,000 unionized air traffic controllers, the assault on unions began everywhere else. Union membership has never been the same in the western world and coincidental our average salaries have not risen as a result.
As the years have passed, the situation has only got worse as conservative ideology intertwined with corporate interests. When George W. Bush got into office he lowered taxes on the rich. When Stephen Harper took over in Canada a few years later he cut corporate taxes in half. On and on it goes.
The trouble is, when so called liberal leaders take over in their respective countries, they do very little to reverse the large tax cuts, deregulation and privatization brought on by their conservative predecessors.
Even Tom Mulcair, leader of Canada’s official opposition party, the NDP (a socialist party) has gone on record by saying if he were elected he would not raise taxes on the wealthy. That statement is fairly disheartening. If you think Hilary Clinton would do what Mulcair would not in the United States, you’re kidding yourself.
A lot of proud Americans love to ramble on about the amount of influence they have on the rest of the western world. If this influence is real, other western leaders are going to have to stop listening and start leading by example. It’s the only way things will start to change.