The uber left continues to pound the drum about inequality and wealth. Unfortunately, raising the minimum wage and/or increasing taxes on millionaires by 4% or 5% maybe worthwhile, but it will do nothing, zero, to ameliorate the disparity of income and wealth.
At the same time, it’s very interesting that these pundits do nothing to address the enormous compensation paid to athletes and entertainment folks.
All of which says to me that, yes, there is inequality but the basic problem is we have a distortion and an imbalance in our “value system.” I believe this distortion will have far more harmful effects on our way of life then the disparity imbedded in “inequality.”
Let’s explore some of what I mean:
Highest paid Hollywood actors in 2013
- Matt Damon = $18 million for his movies
- Brad Pitt = $20 million
- Tom Cruise = $22 million
- Liam Neesen = $32 million
- Ben Stiller = $34 million
- Tom Hanks = $35 million
- Will Smith = $36 million
- Adam Sandler = $40 million
- Johnny Depp = $50 million
- Robert Downey, Jr. = $75 million
- Leonardo DiCaprio = $77 million
And that’s all in just one year! Interesting – no women in the top earners!
Highest paid sports stars
- Floyd Mayweather, boxing = $105 million
- Cristiano Ronaldo, soccer = $80 million
- LeBron James, basketball = $72.3 million
- Lionel Messi, soccer = $64.7 million
- Kobe Bryant, basketball = $61.5 million
- Tiger Woods, golf = $61.2 million
- Roger Federer, tennis = $56.2 million
- Phil Mickelson, golf = $53.2 million
- Rafael Nadal, tennis = $44.5 million
- Matt Ryan, football = $43.8 million
- Manny Pacquiao, boxing = $41.8 million
- Mahendra Singh Dboni, cricket = $30 million
- Dale Earnhardt, Jr., racing = $25.9 million
- Usain Bolt, track = $23.2 million
- Derek Jeter, baseball = $24.3 million
- Serena Williams, tennis = $22 million
Not bad for playing games. When you look a bit further at baseball, for example, bench players are making $3 to $5 million hoping to get chance to play.
And retired athletes don’t do too bad either. Michael Jordan made $90 million in 2013 and Arnold Palmer had to settle for only $40 million.
I would venture to guess that there are a lot more sports and entertainment celebrities making multi-million more than corporate CEO’s. The disparity advocates like to show the ratios of CEO’s to workers. How about comparing the enormous compensation of golf stars to the groundskeepers, the chauffeurs and the entourage hangers on? Look at these actors we’ve cited and compare their pay to the camera operators, the script readers and all the gophers who wait on them hand and foot.
I’d wager none of these people work as hard or have any more skills than corporate CEO’s.
The distortion of the value system was a major cause of the decline of the Roman Empire. You think we’re headed in the same direction?
I think the major piece of inequality has occurred and the most telling, in the lower end of our middle class citizenry. This is the inequality I’m most concerned about:
Nearly 40% of Americans eligible to work are not—the highest percentage of non-workers since 1977.
Median income in America, which means half of us make more and half make less, now stands at about $54,000 a year. That is 3% lower than it was when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008.
On the president’s watch, median household income has declined by about $1,600. White households make just over $60,000 a year, Hispanics $42,500 and Blacks $35,400.
That to me is the most significant part of the inequality dilemma we should be most concerned about.
Try to keep this all in perspective as we hear more and more rhetoric about inequality on the political campaign trail.