A typical day to consider in 2016.
It’s Friday, nice outside, and you’re looking forward to the weekend. You’re running a little late, so you get the kids off to school and head out the door.
Coffee sounds good to start the day, so you run through the McDonald’s drive-through. You pass on the breakfast sandwich and hurry off. You might not know, but the CEO of McDonald’s, Stephan Easterbrook, was compensated $15.35 million in 2016. From his yacht somewhere in the Pacific, he is thankful for your support.
On the way, you check your iPhone to make sure your kids made it to school without forgetting anything. You’re surprised to learn in a news alert that Tim Cook of Apple only made a modest $8.75 million. However, to run that phone, you’re on the Verizon network. Good choice — at least that’s what Lowell Mcadam was thinking when he was raking in $17.67 million.
You’re low on gas and better stop for a quick fill-up. Exxon Mobile can help with that. Rex Tillerson, the 2016 CEO, is happy to be of service at a cost of $27.39 million. You saved some money and packed your lunch, but run in to get a Diet Coke. Compared to Rex, J. Frank Harrison of Coca-Cola is a bargain at $11.36 million.
Finally, you head to your job at Parker Hannifin, where thankfully you are a full-time employee and not one of the contract employees they have been using increasingly. You are lucky to work for a Fortune 500 company. The CEO, who you’ve probably never met, made $10.78 million. He thanks you for your hard work and for voting down the union again. They’ve canceled the company picnic but were forthcoming in suggesting that you should vote Republican in the next election.
It’s a long day but it’s payday and that picks up your spirits. Your salary is directly deposited into Key Bank, where CEO Beth Mooney cashed in on $8.17 million of executive pay. Your mortgage is automatically withdrawn today too, saving a stamp. Wells Fargo, when its not making up fake accounts, is happy to service your loan and the CEO does so at $13.01 million.
After work, you run to the doctor to check your diabetes. The doctor says a prescription or two will keep it under control and so off you go to CVS to fill your prescription. CEO Larry Merlo is happy to fill that for you and his share is $18.36 million. The drug is made by Pfizer and you would think with a compensation of $17.32 million, CEO Ian Read would have cured cancer or something.
Dinner with the family is at Cheesecake Factory. It’s your one night out a week. The meal for a family of four is close to $200 with an appetizer and overpriced cheesecake for everyone. One person eating well is CEO David Overton. With compensation of almost $6 million, he can take his family anywhere he wants — anywhere in the world.
Wanting to get those hotel points, you wittingly use your American Express card, to the pleasure of Kenneth Chenault and his $17.46 million compensation package.
Exhausted, you sit down to watch a little television before bed. There is a reality show on CBS where people are stuck on an island. Les Moonves, CEO of CBS Corporation, can actually afford to buy that island with a compensation of $69.55 million. Of course, you watch the show on your cable provider, Charter Communications, where CEO Thomas Rutledge just missed the $100 million mark in 2016. Better luck next year, Tom!
We have just touched the surface of the impact corporations have on our lives. Besides live the American dream for another week, you made the wealthy even wealthier and made the powerful more powerful. You and the millions of us across the country do this on a daily basis, to the delight of the one percent.
It is not just executive pay that corporations spend their money on. They also spend billions upon billions on lobbyists and campaign contributions to protect their interests.
At the end of the day, we should ask two things of our economic system:
1. If corporations have this much profit to spend on executive pay, lobbying, and campaign contributions, why did Republicans give them an additional tax break?
2. If corporations have this much profit to spend on executive pay, lobbying, and campaign contributions, why can’t they pay their employees sustainable wages to not only help them in their lives but also raise the community they live in?
Note: 2016 CEO compensation provided by AFL-CIO CEO pay watch.