A Different World

$70,000 minimum wage: CEOs can cut their salaries to pay workers more. One did.

Employees reacting to the news. The average salary at Gravity Payments had been $48,000 a year.
Employees reacting to the news. The average salary at Gravity Payments had been $48,000 a year. Matthew Ryan Williams for The New York Times

Related: CEO pay gap remains hidden

The jig is officially up. All the empty rhetoric about why workers can’t be paid more sounds emptier than ever after a CEO who makes a modest salary - compared to other CEOs, any way - just decided to cut his nearly million dollar salary to $70,000 - to be able to raise every worker’s salary in his company to at least $70,000:

The United States has one of the world’s largest pay gaps, with chief executives earning nearly 300 times what the average worker makes, according to some economists’ estimates. That is much higher than the 20-to-1 ratio recommended by Gilded Age magnates like J. Pierpont Morgan and the 20th century management visionary Peter Drucker.

“The market rate for me as a C.E.O. compared to a regular person is ridiculous, it’s absurd,” said Mr. Price, who said his main extravagances were snowboarding and picking up the bar bill. He drives a 12-year-old Audi, which he received in a barter for service from the local dealer.

“As much as I’m a capitalist, there is nothing in the market that is making me do it,” he said, referring to paying wages that make it possible for his employees to go after the American dream, buy a house and pay for their children’s education.

Read more here.

Can we now stop pretending that top executives make so much money because they have to? Can we stop with protecting the richest Americans from even modest criticism?

Please, let’s do away with the whining about a supposed war on the rich and class warfare?

Stop it. Please.

Related: Six Walmart heirs alone are wealthier than 40 percent of Americans combined

If you want to make the case that CEOs deserve to make more than 300 times the average worker, then make that case.

If you want to claim that they don’t have to cut their salaries or raise the salaries of everyday workers, then make that case.

But stop saying that they can’t because of market forces or other factors - because that’s simply not true and never has been.

And while we are at it, stop pushing the falsehood that raising the minimum wage will kill the economy. We’ve raised the minimum wage several times, and the U.S. economy has remained No. 1 in the world after each change, and we are now even seeing places like McDonald’s and Walmart raising worker salaries.

Lastly, don’t forget that workers in the Myrtle Beach area take home the lowest average annual wages in the country. Let’s not pretend that must remain the same, either.

Another view:

CEO pay is rising for reasons other than greed

From that piece:

But even though a top CEO's annual pay package may still be an unfathomable amount of money for most people, defenders of this recent increase in pay think anger toward it is misguided. They say that it is largely the result of a healthy stock market and also point to the fact that a large majority of shareholders, those who want to avoid losing money on poorly performing executives, approve of how much their companies' CEOs are making.

"As the public cried for executives' pay to be tied to performance, that trend has very much happened," says Kevin Scott, co-founder/CEO of branding consulting firm the ADDO Institute. "And now, as their stocks are performing at very high levels, those CEOs are reaping the benefits."

But even if that’s true, this simple fact remains:

They can pay themselves less and their workers more - if they chose to. Most CEOs choose not to, though.