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Happy Tax Day: More for some than for others

johnson-jeff-13By JEFF JOHNSON

(Apr. 15, 2013) — Today is Tax Day. Benjamin Franklin once said there were two certainties in life: death and taxes. But in America today there is a third certainty. Our tax structure is so riddled with tax loopholes, that corporate America and the rich pay far less than their fair share of paying for the common good. And their wealth has never been greater.

Income and wealth inequality is larger today than at any time in our history. Most people know that income and wealth is highly skewed in America. But according to a survey by a Harvard University business economist the reality of income and wealth disparity overwhelms the perception that nine out of ten people have.

In 2009, the total wealth of the United States was about $ 54 trillion and the top 1% of our population owned 40% of that wealth, while the bottom 80% owned 7% of the wealth. The top 1% pulled down 24% of the country’s total income in 2012 and owned 50% of the total stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. The bottom 50% of our population barely owned one-half of one percent of the stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Click here to see a compelling video on the subject.

Corporate executives pay has grown to 380 times the pay of the average worker in America today. See for more information.

The average CEO in Washington State brought down $ 4,070,012 in 2012 while the average worker earned $ 49,190. In other words, the average Washington CEO got 82 times the compensation of the average worker in our state.

Here are a few jaw-dropping local CEO salaries for you:

Howard Schultz – Starbucks – $ 28,909, 770

W. James McNerney –Boeing – $ 27,484,138

M.C. Pigott – PACCAR Inc. – $ 9,279,178

Bradley Tilden – Alaska Air – $ 5,691,372

W. Craig Jelineck – Costco – $ 4,810, 773

Blake Nordstrom – Nordstroms – $ 3,918,716

No doubt these CEOs work hard, but not 82 times harder than the average worker and certainly not over 560 times harder, as in the case of Schultz and McNerney.

This is why it is unacceptable to allow Republicans in Congress to hold our economy hostage to protect the interests of the wealthy. This is why President Obama’s offer to lower Social Security benefits to the elderly and poor by accepting the chained CPI and raising Medicare costs for those seniors earning more than $ 47,000 a year is in President Trumka’s words “unconscionable.”

This is why Governor Inslee’s budget proposal and the proposal by the House Democratic caucus is far superior to the Senate Republican caucus budget.

In today’s world, the children’s fable “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” has been flipped. The rich and corporate America have sold the country a bill of goods and “we the people” continue to pay for it — we are the ones who are naked.

Happy Tax Day!

Jeff Johnson is President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the Evergreen State, representing the interests of more than 500 local unions and 400,000 rank-and-file union members.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!