KIRO NIGHTS

Gee: Should a CEO really make this much money?

Jul 26, 2019, 12:01 PM

I used to think that those who have made more money than I did, did so because they worked harder. Looking closer, you start to realize there’s a lot of people out there working extremely hard, yet they cannot get ahead. And while the average worker’s pay has been stagnant for years, CEO pay continues to rise.

Should wealth protect people from consequences?

In most places of the world, its the lowest paid and those who are treated the worst that are indicators a successful business.

On July 24, 2009, the federal minimum wage was $7.25. And on July 24, 2019, that wage is still $7.25.

Sometimes I hear people say “these people should make better choices of where they work” or maybe “they should’ve applied themselves in school.” Are you kidding me?

Does the lady at the checkout counter at your favorite fast food restaurant not deserve to be able to live in a one-bedroom apartment on her own, after working 40 or more hours a week?

What is wrong with us to think that just because we made certain decisions in life, that other people’s decisions, education, or career choices are “wrong?”

Power company CEO pay is among highest in nation

What we aren’t doing a good job of is talking about how the prices of everything are going up while the wages for many people aren’t. The companies they work for are making more money, and the bosses seem to get the lion’s share of the spoils.

Is it time for us to start taking a look at the minimum wage?

Some argue that we shouldn’t have a minimum wage, and that it would ultimately lower prices. Really? At what cost? Would seven or eight adults have to huddle together in a one bedroom apartment just to get by?

The national housing wage for a modest two-bedroom rental apartment is $22.10, while the federal minimum wage is $7.25. A low-income worker earning the federal minimum wage would need three jobs to afford a two-bedroom apartment — or 1.5 jobs and a roommate.

According to 2017 statistics, a person living in Washington state would have to earn $23.84 an hour to afford fair market rent for a two bedroom rental home, without paying more than 30 percent of their income.

Washington CEO pay is 400 times higher than employees

And folks, this isn’t getting any better. CEOs got a 7 percent raise last year, roughly $800,000. The average worker’s raise was 3 percent at the same time. Maybe that’s part of the reason so many people are without homes right now. Sure, there’s other factors like drugs, crime, and those who don’t want to work.

Others say that if we raise the minimum wages, prices of things will go up too. They’re probably right. But I don’t see bosses voting in any cuts to their own bonuses any time soon. I am not seeing any industry trends of CEOs saying, “Wow, what if we took a couple million less and gave it to the men and women who work for us?” (there’s a few, but not a trend for certain).

What does it mean to be truly wealthy?

But I ask you again, does the guy who goes to work every day, and gives his 100 percent to his employer, not deserve to have at least enough money to pay the rent, and enjoy some of the finer things in life — like seeing a movie or a ballgame once in a while?

I have watched the rich get richer over the past couple of decades while the poor stand there and wonder what happened. Ten years ago, the minimum wage was $7.25 and it hasn’t budged since — 10 years. And a CEO got roughly $800,000 more in just one year.

Take a look at what things cost compared to 10 years ago and ask yourself, “can $7.25 cut it in today’s world?”

I know I am not alone in thinking that if a person works 40 hours in a week, they should at least have a roof over their head and some food to eat.

More from Gee Scott.

Listen to KIRO Nights with Gee Scott and Aaron Mason weekdays from 7-10 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Gee: Should a CEO really make this much money?