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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Peter Georgescu has a message he wants America’s corporate and political elites to hear: “I’m scared,” he said in a recent New York Times opinion piece.

He adds that Paul Tudor Jones is scared, too, as is Ken Langone. And they are trying to get the Powers That Be to pay attention to their urgent concerns. But wait — these three are Powers That Be. Georgescu is former head of Young & Rubicam, one of the world’s largest PR and advertising firms; Jones is a quadruple-billionaire and hedge fund operator; and Langone is a founder of Home Depot.

What is scaring the pants off these powerful peers of the corporate plutocracy? Inequality. Yes, amazingly, these actual occupiers of Wall Street say they share Occupy Wall Street’s critical analysis of America’s widening chasm between the rich and the rest of us. “We are creating a caste system from which it’s almost impossible to escape,” Georgescu wrote, not only trapping the poor, but also “those on the higher end of the middle class.” He issued a clarion call for his corporate peers to reverse the dangerous and ever-widening gulf of income inequality in our country by increasing the paychecks of America’s workaday majority. “We business leaders know what to do. But do we have the will to do it? Are we willing to control the excessive greed so prevalent in our culture today and divert resources to better education and the creation of more opportunity?”

Right on, Peter! However, their concern is not driven by moral outrage at the injustice of it all, but by self-interest: “We are concerned where income inequality will lead,” he said. Specifically, he warned that one of two horrors awaits the elites if they stick to the present path: social unrest (conjuring up images of the guillotine) or (horror of horrors) “oppressive taxes” on the super rich.

Motivation aside, Georgescu does comprehend the remedy that our society must have: “Invest in the actual value creators — the employees,” he writes. “Start compensating fairly (with) a wage that enables employees to share amply in productivity increases and creative innovations.” They have talked with other corporate chieftains and found “almost unanimous agreement” on the need to compensate employees better.

Great! So they’ll just do it, right? Uh… no. But he says he knows just the thing that’ll jar the CEOs into action: “Government can provide tax incentives to business to pay more to employees.” That’s his big idea. Yes, corporate wage-hike subsidies. He actually wants us taxpayers to give money to bloated, uber-rich corporations so they can pay a dab more to their employees!

As Lily Tomlin said, “No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.”

First of all, Georgescu proposes this tax giveaway to the corporate elite could “exist for three to five years and then be evaluated for effectiveness.” Much like the Bush tax cuts that helped drive the economic divide, once the corporate chieftains get a taste for a government handout, they will send their lawyers and lobbyists to Washington to schmooze congresscritters into making the tax subsidy permanent.

Secondly, paying to get “good behavior” would reward bad behavior, completely absolving those very CEOs and wealthy shareholders of their guilt in creating today’s gross inequality. After all, they are the ones who have pushed relentlessly for 30 years to disempower labor unions, downsize and privatize the workforce, send jobs offshore, defund education and social programs, and otherwise dismantle the framework that once sustained America’s healthy middle class. These guys put the “sin” in cynical.

If we want to fix income inequality, Larry Hanley, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, has a solution. In response to Gerogescu’s offer of charity to corporations, Hanley wrote: “Strengthen labor laws, and we can have democracy and equality again.”

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at

Photo: Protesters rally during demonstrations asking for higher wages in Manhattan ,New York, April 15, 2015. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

  • charleo1

    Is it wrong to feel disgusted when the candidate’s chances of winning are continually assessed on the amount of money they are expected to be able to raise? When we are told time, and again in such a matter of fact way, that more than a year and a half from election day, so and so’s chances are almost nil now, because most of the really big donors are already committed? Then, are we supposed to be so naive as to believe the guy that writes the check is almost without exception the guy you work for, except for public office? I’ve heard people claim the American public is as dumb as a box of rocks. In fact, who hasn’t said that at one time or another? But how dumb do we have to be to believe what their peddling about money equaling speech And how much more expensive is a Federal politician than a State, or local one? Do we know? I’ll bet the really big donors do. And who are these really big donors? I’ll bet the politicians know. Want to know why Trump, as big a buffoon as he is, as ugly as he is at times on immigration, women’s issues, women in general, as clueless as he seems to be about almost everything else, but is clobbering his professional competition at the polls? He speaks very plainly, and bluntly about this issue. As his competition acts like it doesn’t exist. Tump is merciless. He calls them puppets. And talks about how they’ve came begging to him for donations, bearing plaques, and trophies, and acting more like my cocker spaniel at dinnertime, than leaders of the free world, or Patriots burning with the desire to serve their fellow countrymen. First of all it rings absolutely true, and secondly, Americans of all stripes are sick of it. And to just drive the point home further, Trump, and Burnie Sanders are the only candidates on the Presidential campaign trail constantly hammering, consistently calling for at least some transparency on who these people are giving all this cash.

  • John Murchison

    These guys are correct to be afraid. The pitchforks are coming back. Whether it is Revolutionary France or Lenin’s Russia, when people have their fill of injustice, the pitchforks come out. We are just getting a few glimpses of this now. It is not a coincidence that demagogues like Trump seem to advance. There is anger on the right. on the left and soon in the middle. I dont think piece meal 50 cent raises backed by tax breaks are going to suffice either.

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    Well sure the CEOs are calling for wage increases. Wall Street is tanking thanks to their crook games. They figure if they up middle income salaries, we’ll bail them out when their Wall Street investments flush down the toilet.

    See? And you all thought the money YOU earn belonged to YOU? Think again. These guys pay employees knowing that a good 45% will come right back to them in business tax subsidies employees pay for and those bailouts they now feel is their corporate welfare entitlement.

    Never let it be said any CEO isn’t always hungering to get back what he paid you…one way or the other.

    • dpaano

      And, have you ever wondered why some companies give their employees “employee discounts?” It’s only so they will get them to buy their junk with the pitiful money they pay them!!! And, most employees think this is wonderful!!!

  • Richard Elvers

    congrats Madeline Stuart on your journey . you’ve made a place for yourself , keep it up

  • Daniel Jones

    I am glad you CEOs realize we need money to spend.
    That said–screw you. If you want our money, earn it! Not diverting tax funds (by negating your debts) in exchange for portions. JUST PAY WAGES and earn our dough with real services and product!

    • dpaano

      And….pay your business taxes! Don’t hire expensive accountants to figure out all the loopholes in the IRS rules so that you pay the least amount that you have to….hell, even GE, Boeing, etc. pay NOTHING in taxes, but you expect taxpayer money to subsidize them to pay their employees more? How ridiculous does that sound when you explain it simply!!!

  • Independent1

    “We are creating a caste system from which it’s almost impossible to
    escape,” Georgescu wrote, not only trapping the poor, but also “those on
    the higher end of the middle class.”

    Wow! Some in the top 2-5% are finally starting to be concerned about what I was asking 6-12 months ago: “When are the super wealthy going to wake to the fact that they are creating a situation of diminishing returns? That they’re bleeding the stone, the true American consumers dry.”

    It’s a lot more than “creating a caste system”. The upper 5% or so, I guess even the upper .1%, have sucked so much money out of the system and invested trillions of it overseas, that they’re finally starting to realize that America (and other countries even in the world maybe) are reaching the point, where the true consumers, the middle class – have been sucked so dry, that it’s going to start impacting the ability of even the wealthiest of Americans to continue making profits.

    I’m posting a chart below, which shows how often money changes hands, from the time it’s printed by the Fed until it needs to be replaced by new bills or just disappears from the system; like when the wealthy ship it to overseas accounts I guess. Note in that chart how the number of times money changed hands was continually growing, meaning that it was used time and time again to provide income for numerous different Americans from the time it first went into circulation until it was so tattered it had to be replaced. But then notice – that starting in the early 1980s how that all changed, and how today, new bills go almost from the bank, to a wage earner, and maybe to one or two other destinations where people make income from it, and then – it ends up in the pockets of the super wealthy because today’s money is now supporting only a few people’s incomes before it’s sucked up by the wealthy.

    And notice in the pie chart which I’m sure many of you are familiar with, just how little of today’s wealth and income the true consumers control; and keep in mind that this pie chart was made 5 years ago, which means that today, the situation has gotten even worse; although there has been some slackening in the last six months or so, as some states and companies have increased what they consider to be a minimum wage (I believe even Wal-Mart is moving to a $10 min wage – at least in some of their stores.

    But my sense is that the real fear that Georgescu, Jones and Langone have, is not “creating a caste system”, but rather a fear that maybe some of the top .1% like the Kochs and the Waltons haven’t recognized yet; these 3 recognize that the bottom 80% of Americans have been bled so dry of wealth and income, that it’s not long before they’re businesses are going to struggle to bring in profits, because there will be less and less of the true consumers in America, who will be able to afford their products or services. So their fear, is really a fear that they will be seeing their own diminishing income streams, if they don’t do something to give “the rabble” more money to spend on the economy.

    • S.J. Jolly

      An analog is a game of Monopoly where one person has achieved ownership of a majority of the property, thus the rent payments. Is just a matter of time before everyone else goes bankrupt

  • Independent1

    And here’s the charts I said would be attached: