Still doubt we’re living under an Oligarchy?

Check out a new report by the Associated Press today – showing that average CEO compensation topped $9.6 million in 2011 – the highest mark since the AP started looking at compensation numbers back in 2006. Meanwhile – wages for working people have barely budged – and it would now take the typical American worker 244 years just to make what their CEO makes in one year.

And among Fortune 500 CEOs – it’s even worse - they make 380-times more than their average worker. So are Wall Street banksters, oil barons, and corporate executives really worth that much money? Should they be paid hundreds of times more than doctors, scientists, or even teachers? This is what neo-feudalism in America looks like – and if Paul Ryan and the Republicans who are pushing austerity for working people - and trillions of dollars in tax cuts for corporate CEOs - if they win big in November – it’ll only get worse.

It’s time to rethink corporate capitalism altogether – and find ways to democratize the economy with worker-owned cooperatives, and business models like unions that look out for workers, the community, and the environment.


Pointofgrille's picture
Pointofgrille 12 years 3 weeks ago

There are very few mass media outlets where there is ANY discussion about Progressive Democratic Solcialism and the average Minimally informed Joe in the street will refer to you as a traitor if you introduce yourself as a progressive socialist. Not his fault. Most of us have been brought up in society with an unwritten subtext that anything in the direction of socialism will eventually evolve into harsh communism. That was the mindset of many generations of Americans and many of us still are influenced by this almost undetectable thought process. We need to find an effective way to teach the American public what a true democratic socialist society can offer ALL of US.

dowdotica's picture
dowdotica 12 years 3 weeks ago
#2'll take some of us longer!lol makes me wonder how much Meg Twitman is going to get to pocket by putting 25,000 workers out on the street. It is really sad to see America decline to such a degree when bottom line is all about compensation packages for brown nosin' stuffed shirts, retained earnings and stock value. Question is, when we are all so dirt poor that all '"we" can afford is "big lots" discount dog food to eat with our pabst blue ribbon and are consuming next to nothing world wide what will they do then? I am all for profit but sheer greed is what is killings the world. Whats stupid about it is while they hold on to all the golden eggs we lay they fail to realize that perhaps if they let some of that trickle down maybe, just maybe i might go out and by a new lap top, or a new 50 inch boob tube, or maybe even, after 35 years, take out an auto loan for the first time quantify that by 30,000,000 other people like me who just want to earn another lousey $7 an hour! Imagine it! The banks ar even worse while 30 year rates are at an all time low? I have to jump through hoops of fire now just to see if i qualify for a refi to help my kid through college and i've been one of the responsible folks thats never missed a payment in 20 years not to mention i didn't use the house like an ATM only to watch as the once 230k equity line shriveled up to zero! Crooks, cranks, cronies the whole lot of them! ARGH! And the poor young people? SHAFTED!!! California, one of the richest states in the nation ranking what? 47th in education? its a travesty the rich get richer and the young get stupider. So when it all goes up in smoke who then will they have fight the wars for profit? ARGH, ARGH!!!!

dowdotica's picture
dowdotica 12 years 3 weeks ago

I think what we need is to change the lexicon, the united cooperative states of America. and then educate folks on the subject. one of the best jobs I ever had was a co-op. good wage and when all the bills were paid? monthly bonuses. the beauty? the owner of the company while still making mountains of golden eggs was more then generous with the profit sharing % such that as a collective if the team out performed expectation and profits were even higher then normal i got to eat lobster and sam adams as oppose to dog food! THe owner of the company was quite wealthy indeed. Then one day? All the money he had evidentaly was not enough and out of the blue he shafted all of the partners and sold the company to a private equtiy firm who then turned around and were going to offer an IPO but a couple years later the compnay then sold again. now mind you the partners who had to sell did make a chunk of change but the minions laying the golden eggs that once felt impowered? THey all work for a worldwide frieght company now....just like them we are the lifers of the working class wage lamenting of days when our moths would water for friday lobster and Sam Adams....

klentz's picture
klentz 12 years 3 weeks ago

In 1952 Frederick Pohl wrote a sci fi novel called "Space Merchants" about the future US (probably about now). It is unbelievably prescient in predicting a corporatocracy where the only purpose of "citizens" is as consumers, and the government is literally run by corporations. The only thing he got wrong was making the "bad" guys the advertising agencies instead of the banks and the oil companies. Of course back then, the banks were giving toasters just to get your deposits, and oil companies had so much oil that gas was going for $.20 per gallon.

If you want to read a political satire that has you saying "Oh my God - how did he know..." then dig this one up.

BARBARA NECKER 12 years 3 weeks ago

Speaking of sci fi, I just purchased a movie called "Ideocracy", but haven't seen it yet. It seems appropriate to these times. It's a comedy about a pair of young folks who are placed in suspended animation today -- and are forgotten. When they are revived 500 years in the future, they awake to a planet of dullards, made so by constant exposure over the centuries to mass commercialism & mindless TV programming -- sound familiar? Therefore the couple are the smartest folks on the planet, and, as such, are drafted to leadership positions. Another probably worth digging up.

George Reiter's picture
George Reiter 12 years 3 weeks ago

When we vote in November, the American voters will only remember Willard Mitt Romney as a former Governor of Massachusetts, a graduate of Harvard, a business man and CEO of Bain Capital and the rest will be lost in the details. The Republicans will spend a billion dollars to spin and lie about anything to get elected. Let’s hope that the Democratic Party will fight back…

John Steinsvold's picture
John Steinsvold 12 years 3 weeks ago

An Alternative to Capitalism (if the people knew about it, they would demand it)

Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed: "There is no alternative". She was referring to capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still persists.

I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism for the American people to consider. Please click on the following link. It will take you to an essay titled: "Home of the Brave?" which was published by the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:

John Steinsvold
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."~ Albert Einstein

fightinbadgers's picture
fightinbadgers 12 years 3 weeks ago

Doctors are well represented in the 1% already. They represent the largest group as a profession within the percentile due to many factors. 1) They have historical ties to conservative politics and the AMA has a large lobbying presence. 2) They have colluded with the pharmaceutical, health insurance and biomedical electronics (MRI, CT, linear accelerators) industries earning massive incomes as commisions by constantly over using medical devices or overprescribing drugs . 3) Medical Cartel mentality: protect the hospitals they work for and each other from outside criticism. Family practicioners;assuming the role of wranglers for the super expensive and hence profit generating specialists.They bully elderly patients who question them. 4)The medical schools in this country are something like 10x more expensive than in Asia, ensuring high salary expectation for new graduatesand huge salaries for veterans who went to medical school when it was cheap. RESULT: in 2009 almost 15% of MDs in the USA made more than $800,000 annually. TAKE HOME after they pay malpractice insurance, etc. Their high compensation demands are probably at least as reponsible for the loss of jobs overseas (flight from paying the high cost of benefits) as Wall Street's policies. Chicken or Egg? Health care increases were double digit annually 20+ years ago when I was graduating from college. Industries who are now manufacturing in other countries were complaining THEN about health insurance costs and environmental demands by the EPA. As a result congress allowed them to do their end around and Wall ST. got in the game. ANY OF YOU DOCTOR$ WANT TO DEBATE? It Has To CHANGE NOW. As an out of work scientist and engineer, I resent the entitlement of the profession. I noticed while traveling that the compensation demands are most obnoxious in the USA I'm not sure what the connection is, but about the time this trend started in1980another toxic trend started - free agency in baseball bringing us to another unsustainable economic enclave of undeserving ingrates.... but that is another story.

humanitys team's picture
humanitys team 12 years 3 weeks ago


If someone buy,s a product at say $10 dollars and sells it at $100 dollars is that person BEING fair or just getting what they can and profiteering at the expense of another ,what would be a fair price?$20 dollars $30 DOLLARS???

The problem with us all is our cultural story ,this has to change for a new way of living to appear ,a new cultural story has to be told that is the story,s we tell about how the world really is to each other and our children ,ours is not a better way ours is another way WE ARE ALL ONE.

Check out the global conversation .com for another way to create our world.


Vegasman56 12 years 3 weeks ago

The beginning of the Pres. Reagan’s administration started the downward fall of the American working family, to a life of struggle under the control of the corporations in this nation, who takes profit over the working family instead of uniting this nation with equal opportunity. In the writings of some of our famous founding fathers, one of them Thomas Jefferson’s quotation of, “All men are created equal” which is found in the Declaration of Independence, one of the countries best known documents that started this country departure from the ruling factor of the monarchy and his parliament. We are now at the point in this country’s history we are heading towards a structure that Alexander Hamilton mentioned in the Federalist papers number 17, of a monarch like structure that now we give onto the corporations with such titles as Chief Operating Officer, Chairman of the Board, or the President of the Company, than titles like The King, Queen, Prince, Princess or any other of the royal authority.'s picture 12 years 3 weeks ago

First I want to thank you, your wife and all of your team Mr. Hartmann for your work and taking the risk to remind all of us what journalism can sometimes achieve in a country where "free speech" is supposedly a "right" that we all can share in. I also want to give kudos to Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher and Matt Taibbi in the same regard. I wish that my family would read and listen to all of you 10% of the time that I have so I could have a reasonable conversation with any of them. My point as much as I can explain it is that my family can read and is mostly college educated, but they do not seem to have time to explore "alternate" media and for the ones who have cable end up watching movies and clicking past Real Time with Bill Maher, The Colbert Report and The Daily Show etc. And yes I have forwarded and mentioned all of the above numerous times over the years, but my impression is that they are all too busy dealing with work and family responsiblities so end up with NBC, CBS and ABC corporate owned news. As a "cup 1/2 full" person I know that they can parse some of the propaganda that is clearly propaganda, but without the historical facts and context they are all basically flying blind and feel helpless to do anything about it.

Perhaps the recipe for oligarchy is to first take over the mass media and plant the seeds of misinformation so that the masses end up voting against the future of their own children? Yes we now have an oligarchy in the making but what can we do about it? Getting active and involved requires time to be able to contribute in that way. Giving money requires having jobs that pay enough to afford to give.

I don't know what to say to my son and daughter since I see no hope for them unless they find a job in IT or medical or insurance or the financial industry. As a licensed electrician I certainly cannot advise them to work in a trade since then they will essentially end up indentured servants. There seems to be no future in spending years learning about re-wiring old buildings so I wonder who will do that work in the future? Who in their right mind would want their children to train to become a craftsman? Obviously no money in that. Can't support a family with no money. So who will do the maintenance and who will do the work to upgrade and replace obsolete electrical systems?

Where is the future in doing what we all need versus what pays the highest buck? What will Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon do when all the electricians are gone and the back up power fails?

Noah.Y's picture
Noah.Y 12 years 3 weeks ago

Well, no they are not worth that much money but then neither are football players or basketball players. Those are also a part of the private sector. If we are going to look at one then we need to look at all.

rbd171's picture
rbd171 12 years 3 weeks ago

It's time to rethink corporate capitalism altogether -and find ways to democratize the economy with worker-owned cooperatives, and business models like unions that look out for workers, the community, and the environment. -Thom Exactly. Leave the greedy bastards to themselves and start collectives, cooperatives and unionize all workers. Starve them out the way they are starving us out. THAT IS WHERE WE SHOULD HEAD.

Scott6113's picture
Scott6113 12 years 3 weeks ago

It's easy to despair, and perhaps the decline of the USA is inevitable. But I refuse to give in to it. First, because many people are waking up. Occupy Wall Street is what I have been waiting to see for years, ever since the 60s protests brought real change.

Second, because it is still possible to do good in small ways, and do well even if most are not. What makes up your life is largely up to you.

I do feel like a man without a country, as Vonnegut said late in life. In my youth I never would have believed that the USA would engage in torture. But it has. Or that half the college grads would not be able to find work, or that General Motors would ever become bankrupt, but all this has happened and somehow we adjust.

There's still a way through the wreckage. I believe that awareness is powerful, and that one must do what one can for the people in our communities.

Vegasman56 12 years 3 weeks ago

It is really frightening where this country is headed down the road of the oligarchy type government Thom, I really believe that they do not need servants to bow down to their every need. Do they not understand that we are a community trying to be successful by providing a livable wage and means for our families, I guess not.

The Republicans/Conservatives, they do not follow the teachings of our founding fathers on their ideas of what they want this country to be. Here are some of our founding father’s thoughts on how to achieve of what they had in mind.

I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
Thomas Jefferson

Experience demands that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor.
Thomas Jefferson

I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.
James Madison

Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Governments, the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from the acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents.

A Letter to Thomas Jefferson from James Madison's picture
bob.b@transpare... 12 years 3 weeks ago

Your post says it all !

Your comment regarding employee owned companies (and I don't mean the stockholders) is a sound and economically sustainable business model. Wonder why there are not more ESOP's in existence?

Who knows how to execuate and manage a business better than the people that work in it day-to-day? They undersatnd their customers requirements, know their products and have the knowledge to operate more effectively and efficently.

A much better choice than someone sitting in their office or out on their horse farm making decisions on the future of the company and the lilves of so many people!

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