We researched the 100 U.S. corporations that shelled out the most last year in CEO compensation. At 25 of these corporate giants, we found, the bill for chief executive compensation actually ran higher than the company's entire federal corporate income tax bill.
Accounting games like "transfer pricing" have sent the corporate share of federal revenues plummeting. In 1945, U.S. corporate income taxes added up to 35 percent of all federal government revenue. This year, corporate income taxes will make up just 9 percent of federal receipts. In 1952, the year Republican President Dwight Eisenhower was elected, the effective income tax rate for corporations was 52.8 percent. Last year it was just 10.5 percent.
Among the nation's top firms, the S&P 500, CEO pay last year averaged $10,762,304, up 27.8 percent over 2009. Average worker pay in 2010? That finished up at $33,121, up just 3.3 percent over the year before.
The last is especially puzzling. When salaries rise faster for a specific category of jobs, it tends to signal that the market is finding a shortage of qualified people. It's also the golden time of opportunity for outsiders to break into the market and drop wages.
Or, option B, it is a feature of rent seeking due to a protected market. Which one strikes out humble reader as more likely?