Income Inequality Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Income Inequality Media Articles in Major Media
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Closures from COVID-19 have affected 1.6 billion children worldwide. Nearly two years into the pandemic, experts say the economic costs are in the trillions and the social costs are incalculable. $17 trillion. That's how much the pandemic could cost children around the world in terms of lost lifetime earnings. The number comes from a new report by the United Nations and the World Bank. Closed schools combined with the economic crashes all around the world not only means lost learning, it means students driven into the workforce. And some of them are going to stay there. So that all translates to children learning fewer basic skills, which makes them less qualified for higher-waged jobs. And that is how they get that estimate of $17 trillion of lost wages potentially over the lifetimes of these children. UNESCO actually has a really simple benchmark, which is can a child, by the age of 10, read a sentence in their native language? And if they can't, they call that learning poverty. And they found that even before the pandemic, more than half of the children in low- and middle-income countries couldn't do that. And now learning poverty is projected to potentially reach up to 7 in 10 of those children. UNICEF says that 10 million more girls around the world could be forced into child marriage in the next decade as one of the most unusual cascading impacts of the pandemic. Essentially, they've run out of options for survival. So this is really a human toll that they're talking about here.
Note: The media continually blame the many harmful effects of the lockdown on COVID. The virus did not cause these problems, the lockdowns did. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
After years of declines, America's middle class now holds a smaller share of U.S. wealth than the top 1%. The middle 60% of U.S. households by income ... saw their combined assets drop to 26.6% of national wealth as of June, the lowest in Federal Reserve data going back three decades. For the first time, the super rich had a bigger share, at 27%. The data offer a window into the slow-motion erosion in the financial security of mid-tier earners. That continued through the Covid-19 pandemic, despite trillions of dollars in government relief. While "middle class" has different meanings to different people, many economists use income to define the group. The 77.5 million families in the middle 60% make about $27,000 to $141,000 annually, based on Census Bureau data. Their share in three main categories of assets - real estate, equities and private businesses - slumped in one generation. That made their lives more precarious, with fewer financial reserves to fall back on when they lose their jobs. The top 1% represents about 1.3 million households who roughly make more than $500,000 a year - out of a total of almost 130 million. Over the past 30 years, 10 percentage points of American wealth has shifted to the top 20% of earners, who now hold 70% of the total, Fed data show. A generation ago, the middle class held more than 44% of real estate assets in the country. Now it's down to 38%. The pandemic ... led to soaring rents this year, which hurt those who can't afford a house.
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The secret wealth and dealings of world leaders, politicians and billionaires has been exposed in one of the biggest leaks of financial documents. Some 35 current and former leaders and more than 300 public officials are featured in the files from offshore companies, dubbed the Pandora Papers. They reveal the King of Jordan secretly amassed Ł70m of UK and US property. They also show how ex-UK PM Tony Blair and his wife saved Ł312,000 in stamp duty when they bought a London office. The couple bought an offshore firm that owned the building. The leak also links Russian President Vladimir Putin to secret assets in Monaco, and shows the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis - facing an election later this week - failed to declare an offshore investment company used to purchase two villas for Ł12m in the south of France. It is the latest in a string of leaks over the past seven years, following the FinCen Files, the Paradise Papers, the Panama Papers and LuxLeaks. The examination of the files is the largest organised by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), with more than 650 reporters taking part. Some figures are facing allegations of corruption, money laundering and global tax avoidance. But one of the biggest revelations is how prominent and wealthy people have been legally setting up companies to secretly buy property in the UK. The documents reveal the owners of some of the 95,000 offshore firms behind the purchases.
Note: Read about the Panama Papers leak that previously shed light on the tax havens of the elite. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on financial corruption and income inequality from reliable major media sources.
The wealthiest 400 American families paid an 8.2% average rate on their federal individual income taxes from 2010 to 2018, according to a White House analysis published Thursday. Those richest 400 families represent the top 0.0002% of all taxpayers. Their estimated tax rate, paid on $1.8 trillion of income over the nine-year period, is "low" relative to other taxpayers, according to the report. By comparison, Americans paid an average 13.3% tax rate on their income in 2018, according to a Tax Foundation analysis. The analysis comes as Democrats have proposed raising taxes on the rich and corporations to help fund up to $3.5 trillion of investments education, paid leave, healthcare, childcare and measures to curb climate change. The report's findings are similar to those of a recent ProPublica investigation, which found that some of the world's richest men (Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Warren Buffett, Carl Icahn, Elon Musk and George Soros) pay a tiny fraction of their wealth in tax. The 25 richest Americans paid a true federal tax rate of 3.4% from 2014 to 2018, while seeing their net worth grow by $401 billion, according to the investigation, which cited confidential IRS data. Low- and middle-earners pay most of their income tax from wages on jobs. In contrast, the wealthiest Americans generate the bulk of their income from investments, which, if held longer than a year, are taxed at a lower rate than wages.
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This week, House Democrats released their proposed tax increases to fund Joe Biden's $3.5tn social policy plan. The biggest surprise: they didn't go after the huge accumulations of wealth at the top – representing the largest share of the economy in more than a century. You might have thought Democrats would be eager to tax America's 660 billionaires whose fortunes have increased by $1.8tn since the start of the pandemic, an amount that could fund half of Biden's plan and still leave the billionaires as rich as they were before the pandemic began. Elon Musk's $138bn in pandemic gains, for example, could cover the cost of tuition for 5.5 million community college students and feed 29 million low-income public-school kids, while still leaving Musk $4bn richer than he was before Covid. But senior House Democrats decided to raise revenue the traditional way, taxing annual income rather than giant wealth. They aim to raise the highest income tax rate and apply a 3% surtax to incomes over $5m. The dirty little secret is the ultra-rich don't live off their paychecks. You might also have assumed Democrats would target America's biggest corporations, awash in cash but paying a pittance in taxes. Thirty-nine of the S&P 500 or Fortune 500 paid no federal income tax at all from 2018 to 2020 while reporting a combined $122bn in profits to their shareholders. But remarkably, House Democrats have decided to set corporate tax rates below the level they were at when Barack Obama was in the White House.
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It was six years ago when CEO Dan Price raised the salary of everyone at his Seattle-based credit card processing company Gravity Payments to at least $70,000 a year. Price slashed his own salary by $1 million to be able to give his employees a pay raise. He was hailed a hero by some and met with predictions of bankruptcy from his critics. But that has not happened; instead, the company is thriving. "So you've almost doubled the number of employees?" CBS News' Carter Evans asked. "Yeah," Price replied. He said his company has tripled and he is still paying his employees $70,000 a year. "How much do you make?" asked Evans. "I make $70,000 a year," Price replied. To pay his own bills, Price downsized his life, sold a second home he owned, and tapped into his savings. According to the Economic Policy Institute, average CEO compensation is 320 times more than the salaries of their typical workers. "This shows that isn't the only way for a company to be successful and profitable," Hafenbrack said. "Do you pay what you can get away with? Or do you pay what you think is ideal, or reasonable, or fair?" Price said despite the success his company has had with the policy, he wishes other companies would follow suit. Bigger paychecks have lead to fiercely loyal employees. "Our turnover rate was cut in half, so when you have employees staying twice as long, their knowledge of how to help our customers skyrocketed over time and that's really what paid for the raise more so than my pay cut," said Price.
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The top 1% of Americans are avoiding paying an estimated $163 billion in taxes a year, according to the Treasury Department. That is pushing the estimated tax gap, the amount of money owed by taxpayers that isn't collected, to nearly around $600 billion annually, and to approximately $7 trillion in lost revenue over the next decade, the Treasury Department finds. Tax evasion is concentrated among the wealthy in part because high-income taxpayers are able to employ experts who can better shield them from reporting their true incomes. More complicated incomes such as partnerships and proprietorships – more frequent among high earners – have a far greater noncompliance rate that can hit as high as 55%. "The tax gap can be a major source of inequity. Today's tax code contains two sets of rules: one for regular wage and salary workers who report virtually all the income they earn; and another for wealthy taxpayers, who are often able to avoid a large share of the taxes they owe," wrote Treasury Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy Natasha Sarin. The IRS is unable to collect about 15% of taxes owed and the lack of resources has led to a fall in audit rates. For the IRS to appropriately enforce tax laws against high earners and large corporations, it would need money to hire and train agents who can examine thousands of pages of sophisticated tax filings. The Biden administration is pushing to raise the IRS budget by $80 billion over 10 years to help increase enforcement, IT and taxpayer services.
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Worsening inequality, as poorer people and nations lose years of gains in the battle against hunger and poverty, is likely to be one of the lasting legacies of the pandemic. New data released by the United Nations ... illustrates the unequal impact as measured by access to a basic human necessity: Food. Global hunger shot up by an estimated 118 million people worldwide in 2020, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, jumping to 768 million people – the most going at least as far back as 2006. The number of people living with food insecurity – or those forced to compromise on food quantity or quality – surged by 318 million, to 2.38 billion. In North America and Europe, formal employment, social safety nets and the widespread availability of remote work cushioned the blow. In those parts of the world, the percentage of people living with food insecurity edged up from 7.7 percent to 8.8 percent. But the developing world, home to billions of informal workers and gaps in government assistance, fared far worse. Latin America and the Caribbean saw the biggest one-year spike in food insecurity: a jump of nine percentage points, to 40.9 percent. "Governments need to open their eyes and adjust their thinking in a crisis, and in some cases, like Peru, they just didn't," said Torero of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. "They had the money available to deal with the problem. But they imposed restrictions on movement blindly and did not find a way to help the people who needed it."
Note: The tragic increase of hunger and starvation worldwide is not a result of the pandemic, but rather of the lockdown in response to the pandemic. Why is that not even mentioned in this article? Many millions have died of starvation and suicide as a result of the lockdowns, yet so few care or are even aware of this. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and income inequality from reliable major media sources.
Did you make it to the Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley, Idaho this past week? The investment bank sponsors the annual schmooze-fest and "summer camp for billionaires" for the same reason that companies give away their luxury products in Oscars gift baskets: because if you spoil rich people enough, they may develop sufficiently warm feelings towards you to throw you some business one day. At Sun Valley each year, the billionaires are feted by the mere millionaires; the millionaires drum up enough deals to allow them to buy their third and fourth homes. The Sun Valley conference is primarily known as a place where tech and media moguls gather to do a little fly fishing and strike multibillion-dollar merger deals. More fundamentally, the conference is, like Davos, a mechanism for the concentration of wealth, dressed up as something friendlier. Here, America's wealthiest mega-billionaires gather with the chief executive of America's most powerful companies, the director of the CIA, and America's most worthless pseudo-journalists ... to develop the social and business connections that allow the top 0.00001% of earners to continue to accumulate a share of our nation's wealth that already exceeds the famously cartoonish inequality of the Gilded Age of Rockefeller and Carnegie. We are developing a private class of billionaire kings whose will is omnipotent and untouchable by any democratic force. This is the state of affairs that the Sun Valley conference serves to intensify.
The wealth of the richest 0.00001% of the U.S. now exceeds that of the prior historical peak, which occurred in the Gilded Age, according to economist Gabriel Zucman. In the late 19th century, the U.S. experienced rapid industrialization and economic growth, creating an inordinate amount of wealth for a handful of families. This era was also known for its severe inequality; and some have called the period that began around 1990 a "Second Gilded Age." Back then, just four families represented the richest 0.00001% – today's equivalent is 18 families. Zucman, a French economist whose doctoral advisor was the historical economist Thomas Piketty, author of bestseller "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," released data this week showing that as of July 1, the top 0.00001% richest people in the U.S. held 1.35% of the country's total wealth. These 18 families include those of Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. The richest 0.01% – around 18,000 U.S. families – have also surpassed the wealth levels reached in the Gilded Age. These families hold 10% of the country's wealth today, Zucman wrote. By comparison, in 1913, the top 0.01% held 9% of U.S. wealth, and a mere 2% in the late 1970s. The increasing concentration of wealth comes as the ultra-rich face more scrutiny for the money they're not paying in taxes. Recent reports have highlighted that because so much of their wealth consists of unrealized gains in stocks and real estate, they pay little or nothing in income tax.
Welcome to what's known as "summer camp for billionaires." This week, the top executives at the biggest and most influential companies in tech and media, including Apple's Tim Cook and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, will get together at the Sun Valley Resort. These top moguls are traveling again to Sun Valley for an annual weeklong gathering organized by a boutique investment firm called Allen & Company that is known as intensely private. This week, the aggregate wealth of the men and women staying at the Sun Valley Resort is likely to reach more than $1 trillion. "It really is elitism on full display," says media analyst Colin Gillis. "But actually, it's a very private event; so, I shouldn't say 'on full display.'" Prominent politicians – including heads of state – give talks and take questions. Mike Pompeo attended when he was the head of the C.I.A., and Mauricio Macri was a guest when he was the president of Argentina. Then, at night, there are cocktail parties and lavish dinners. Among Allen & Co.'s deal makers are prominent former members of Congress, including Rep. Will Hurd and Sen. Bill Bradley, and George Tenet, the former director of the C.I.A.. The gathering is geared towards ... building relationships that may one day pay off. Bezos reportedly decided to buy "The Washington Post" when he was in Sun Valley. "They've organized the biggest matchmaking service for media companies," says Steven Davidoff Solomon, the head of the Berkeley Center for Law and Business.
This month, ProPublica revealed that American billionaires essentially do not pay taxes, and within hours the White House had awkwardly promised no fewer than four federal investigations into the identity of the individual who had alerted the news organization to this fact. By Thursday, a North Carolina congressman was demanding the FBI director explain why he hadn't made any arrests or at the very least, "executed any search warrants or raided any offices" in the international manhunt for the leaker. ProPublica carefully chose the six billionaires whose tax returns it chose to single out for specific scrutiny. But ProPublica seems to have deliberately underthrown. After breathlessly informing readers they possessed a "trove" of 15 years' worth of tax returns on literally "thousands" of the world's richest people, the story's three authors proceeded to weave a few juicy and non-contextualized facts into a narrative that felt like a protracted sidebar to the "real" story. We learned that the 25 richest billionaires in America added $401bn to their net worths between 2014 and 2018 and paid about 3% of that amount in taxes, but we didn't learn much about any specific billionaire's tax avoidance strategies. Fifteen years of tax return information on thousands of American plutocrats is, to be sure, one of the biggest stories of the decade. It's just not clear ProPublica has that much appetite for sticking with the story.
Note: In the US, former tax lobbyists often write the rules on tax dodging. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and income inequality from reliable major media sources.
More than five million people became millionaires across the world in 2020 despite economic damage from the Covid-19 pandemic. While many poor people became poorer, the number of millionaires increased by 5.2 million to 56.1 million globally, Credit Suisse research found. In 2020, more than 1% of adults worldwide were millionaires for the first time. Wealth creation appeared to be "completely detached" from the economic woes of the pandemic. The number of ultra-high net worth individuals, usually defined as those having investable assets of more than $30m, grew by 24% worldwide in 2020, the fastest rate of increase since 2003. Credit Suisse said its total of the number of millionaires might be higher than other organizations' estimates because it included both investable and non-investable assets, such as owner-occupied homes. [Economist] Anthony Shorrocks ... said the pandemic had an "acute short-term impact on global markets", but added this was "largely reversed by the end of June 2020". "Global wealth not only held steady in the face of such turmoil, but in fact rapidly increased in the second half of the year," he said. However, wealth differences between adults widened in 2020, and Mr Shorrocks said if asset price increases, such as house price rises, were removed from the analysis, "then global household wealth may well have fallen". "In the lower wealth bands where financial assets are less prevalent, wealth has tended to stand still, or, in many cases, regressed," he said.
ProPublica cracked open the vault on America's biggest tax grifters, revealing how the Midas men dip, dodge and duck, paying pennies on the dollar, if that, while we suckers have to pony up. How rich. "In 2007, Jeff Bezos, then a multibillionaire and now the world's richest man, did not pay a penny in federal income taxes," ProPublica reported. "He achieved the feat again in 2011. In 2018, Tesla founder Elon Musk, the second-richest person in the world, also paid no federal income taxes. "Michael Bloomberg managed to do the same in recent years. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn did it twice. George Soros paid no federal income tax three years in a row." "Taken together," ProPublica concluded, "it demolishes the cornerstone myth of the American tax system: that everyone pays their fair share and the richest Americans pay the most. The I.R.S. records show that the wealthiest can – perfectly legally – pay income taxes that are only a tiny fraction of the hundreds of millions, if not billions, their fortunes grow each year." ProPublica shed light on the fact that "the superrich earn virtually all their wealth from the constantly rising value of their assets, particularly in the stock market, and that the sales of those assets are taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income from a paycheck." And while the value of those assets grows by the billion, untaxed, these rich folks can borrow against them.
The wealthiest Americans – including Warren Buffett, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos – paid little in federal income taxes at times in recent years despite soaring fortunes, according to Internal Revenue Service data obtained by ProPublica. The information published Tuesday shows how billionaires are able to legally reduce their tax burden, highlighting how the American tax system can hit ordinary wage earners harder than the richest people in the country. That's often because the richest Americans tend to have their wealth tied up in stocks and real estate, allowing them to avoid taxes on unrealized profits. The U.S. tax system focuses on income, not what is known as unrealized gains from unsold stocks, real estate or other assets. The records ... purport to show Buffett, head of Berkshire Hathaway, as having paid $23.7 million in federal income taxes on total income of $125 million from 2014 to 2018, which would indicate a personal income tax rate of 19 percent. ProPublica estimated that Buffett saw his wealth soar by $24.3 billion during that period and so his "true tax rate" was 0.10 percent. Musk, chief executive of Tesla, paid $455 million on $1.52 billion in income during the same period, when his wealth grew by $13.9 billion, accounting for a "true tax rate" of 3.27 percent. Bezos, chief executive of Amazon and the owner of The Washington Post, paid $973 million in taxes on $4.22 billion in income, as his wealth soared by $99 billion, resulting in a 0.98 percent "true tax rate."
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For years, the Gates Foundation has been steered by an unusually small board of trustees, made up of Bill, his estranged wife, Melinda, and the billionaire investor Warren Buffett. The larger the foundation became, the less anyone seemed willing to ask tough questions about its secretive management structure or its penchant for giving money to lucrative pharmaceutical and credit card companies such as Mastercard, despite the fact that giving away billions to wealthy corporations set an unusual and troubling precedent in the philanthropic sector. Billionaires who make their fortunes through corporate practices that undercut workers and deepen inequality – like corporate tax avoidance, insufficient sick pay and the immoral gap in pay between executives and low-paid workers – are not the solution to problems they generate. Asking Bill Gates to fix inequality is like asking an arsonist to hose down your house after he just set it on fire. In April last year, the University of Oxford was reportedly considering offering a Covid-19 vaccine developed by its scientists on a nonexclusive basis. But then, Kaiser Health News reported, "Oxford – urged on by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – reversed course. It signed an exclusive vaccine deal with AstraZeneca that gave the pharmaceutical giant sole rights and no guarantee of low prices." This dealmaking .. seemed to conflict with the Gates Foundation's stated mission to improve global access to medicines, but it's not surprising.
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Easy money pouring out of central banks is a key driver behind this surge in fortunes, and the resulting wealth inequality. In recent decades, as the global population of billionaires rose more than fivefold and the largest fortunes rocketed past $100 billion, I started tracking this wealth. Rising inequality was threatening to provoke popular backlashes against capitalism itself. The pandemic has reinforced this trend. As the virus spread, central banks injected $9 trillion into economies worldwide, aiming to keep growth alive. Much of that stimulus went into financial markets, and from there into the net worth of the ultra-rich. The total wealth of billionaires worldwide rose by $5 trillion to $13 trillion in 12 months, the most dramatic surge ever registered on the annual list compiled by Forbes magazine. The billionaire population boomed as well. On the 2021 Forbes list, which runs to April 6, their numbers rose nearly 700 to more than 2,700. The biggest surge came in China, which added 238 billionaires – one every 36 hours – for a total of 626. Next came the US, which added 110 for a total of 724. India added 38 for a total of 140, and has surpassed Russia for the third largest population of billionaires in the world. The fundamental driver of the market and thus the billionaire boom: easy money pouring out of central banks. Wealth inequality is likely to continue widening until the monetary spigots are turned off.
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The Institute for Policy Studies calculated that the average CEO compensation in 2020 was $15.3m, when looking at the 100 companies with the lowest median wage for workers in the S&P 500 index. The median worker pay was $28,187. This means that chief executives saw a 29% pay raise compared to 2019, while workers saw a 2% decrease. For all 100 companies, median worker pay was below $50,000 for 2020. The compensation hike came as companies gave their top leaders hefty bonuses and forgiving performance benchmarks during the pandemic, allowing the top executives to cash in while their low-wage employees were essential workers. Hilton's CEO, Christopher Nassetta, had a compensation package worth $55.9m in 2020, the highest of the executives analyzed in the report, while median pay at the company was $28,608, down from $43,695 in 2019. Since the pandemic affected the company's expected performance, and thus Nassetta's expected compensation, the company's board restructured its stock awards to give its CEO ample pay in 2020, according to the report. Other CEOs were met with friendly treatment from their respective corporate boards. Chipotle's board removed the company's poor financial results from the peak of the shutdown and excluded Covid-related costs when calculating CEO Brian Niccol's compensation. Niccol received $38m last year, which is 2,898 times more than the company's median worker pay of $13,127.
One in two people worldwide saw their earnings drop due to the coronavirus, with people in low-income countries hit particularly hard by job losses or cuts to their working hours, new research shows. US-based polling company Gallup, which surveyed 300,000 people across 117 countries, found that half of those with jobs earned less because of the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. This translated to 1.6 billion adults globally, it said. "Worldwide, these percentages ranged from a high of 76 per cent in Thailand to a low of 10 per cent in Switzerland," said researchers in a statement. In Bolivia, Myanmar, Kenya, Uganda, Indonesia, Honduras and Ecuador, more than 70 per cent of people polled said they took home less than before the global health crisis. In the United States, this figure dropped to 34 per cent. The Covid-19 crisis has affected workers across the world – particularly women. International charity Oxfam said ... that according to its own research, the pandemic had cost women around the world $800bn (Ł578bn) in lost income. The poll also showed that one in three people surveyed had lost their job or business due to the pandemic – translating to just over 1 billion people globally. These figures also varied across nations, with more than 60 per cent of respondents in lower-income countries such as the Philippines, Kenya and Zimbabwe having lost their jobs or businesses, compared to 3 per cent in Switzerland and 13 per cent in the United States.
Note: This article fails to mention that these were consequences not of the virus, but of the lockdowns. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Research Medical's owner, HCA Healthcare Inc., is a profitable, publicly traded network of 185 hospitals. Even in the year of Covid-19, 2020, the company generated $51.5 billion in revenue and increased its pretax earnings by 3.6 percent. That performance helped boost the total compensation HCA's chief executive, Samuel N. Hazen, received last year to $30.4 million, a 13 percent rise from 2019. The total worth of his compensation package equaled 556 times the compensation received by the median employee at HCA – $54,651. The figures highlight the growing CEO pay gap, a problem among many public companies according to some investors and workers and even a few CEOs. In 2019, for example, the average pay ratio among 350 large American companies was 320-to-1, according to research by the Economic Policy Institute. In 1989, the average was 61-to-1. Because [Jamelle] Brown, [an] emergency department worker, makes even less than the median, Hazen got roughly 1,000 times Brown's pay. Brown says he lives with his sister because he doesn't earn enough from his job at Research Medical to pay for his own apartment. HCA isn't alone in paying its chief executive vastly more than what rank-and-file workers earn. Acuity Brands, an industrial technology company, paid its CEO, Neil M. Ashe, $21 million last year, or 2,316 times the median employee's pay. Starbucks ... paid its CEO, Kevin Johnson, $14.7 million last year. That was 1,211 times the pay of its median employee.
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