To combat the outrageous numbers the latest Executive Excess reveals, we’re going to need a tidal wave, a broad movement to keep public funds out of the hands of execs who won’t share the wealth.
Here at the Institute for Policy Studies, we’ve been worrying about the wild divide between how companies treat their CEOs and their workers for well over two decades now. My colleagues Sarah Anderson and Sam Pizzigati have just released our 25th annual Executive Excess report.

The study’s key finding: Two-thirds of the U.S. corporations that rake in the most federal tax dollars, either via contracts or subsidies, pay their CEOs more than 100 times what they pay their median workers. Stats like that have this report making waves, with write-ups in the Guardian and USA Today, along with a viral video from Senator Bernie Sanders.

To combat the outrageous numbers the latest Executive Excess reveals, we’re going to need a tidal wave, a broad movement to keep public funds out of the hands of execs who won’t share the wealth. With that kind of movement, maybe Executive Excess won’t ever need to see a 50th-anniversary edition.

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies team
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Degrowthers Challenge Ideas of Economic Health
Paul Ryan, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, sees growth as the “beating heart of a free economy.” Degrowthers — members of a movement of academics and activists pushing to equitably and sustainably downscale production — think otherwise. They’re calling for a societal shift of priorities, a move away from profit and competition and towards simplicity, sharing, and solidarity. After ten years of academic thinking, their ideas are making their way into the political sphere as well. Juliette Legendre has more on this emerging new approach to economic life.
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We Once Jailed CEOs for Their Crimes. Remember?
Jeffrey Skilling, the ex-CEO of the now-bankrupt energy giant Enron, has got to be steaming. Skilling helped Enron soar high up in the Fortune 500, then sank into infamy when his company went bankrupt in 2001 amid revelations of widespread fraud. Five years later, a federal judge sentenced Skilling to 24 years in prison. Last week, federal authorities released the 64-year-old to a halfway house, the first step to outright release. Enron’s collapse cost shareholders billions and employees their life savings. Skilling personally has had to pay $45 million in fines and over $75 million in legal fees — and his 20-year-old son died while he was serving his time. But Skilling has yet another reason to fume. None of the top CEOs responsible for the fraud that ushered in the 2008 financial crash — and wreaked much more havoc on America than Enron — has yet faced a day behind bars and, notes federal judge Jed Rakoff, likely never will.
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Our Tax Dollars: Enriching CEOs Who Pay Peanuts
Every year, the U.S. government spends about half a trillion dollars buying goods and services from the private sector. And private-sector companies don’t just receive government contracts. They also gobble up hundreds of billions in “corporate welfare.” Our tax dollars bankroll all this largesse. Without them, almost every major U.S. corporation would flounder. This corporate reliance on tax dollars gives citizens, in turn, some leverage over our most powerful corporate entities. If we so chose, a new Institute for Policy Studies report details quite vividly, we could deny contracts and subsidies to corporations that engage in behaviors — like paying top execs far more than their workers — that leave us staggeringly more unequal as a nation. co-editor Sam Pizzigati, author of the just-published The Case for a Maximum Wage, has more.
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This Week On 

Sarah Anderson, Executive Excess: How Taxpayers Subsidize Giant Corporate Pay Gaps. More than two-thirds of the top federal contractors and corporate subsidy recipients paid their CEO more than 100 times their median worker pay in 2017

Negin Owliaei, D.C. Restaurant Reaches $1.5 Million Settlement Amid Tipped Pay Debate. A class-action lawsuit against a D.C. institution underscores the need for one fair wage.

Sarah Anderson, Election Fight Over Immigration is Fraying Sweden’s Social Fabric. With the ruling red-green bloc running on an anti-inequality agenda, an insurgent anti-immigrant party is drowning out that message with fear mongering.

Bob Lord, The Arithmetic of the CEO-Worker Pay Divide. Sometimes percentages alone don’t do justice to the injustice of corporate pay.

Elsewhere on the web 

Amy Fleming, Heat: the next big inequality issue, Guardian. By 2100, an estimated 74 percent of the world’s population will face deadly heat for at least 20 days a year.

Simon Kuper, Moneyland: how the super-rich looted their own countries to create an elite global haven, New Statesman. Offshore wealth can tell us a great deal about everything from worldwide kleptocracy to declining public services.

Jarrid Green, Community Control of Land and Housing, Democracy Collaborative. How expanding the capacity and number of community land trusts can address the social and ecological consequences of land speculation.

Jim Hightower, Our Economy Is More Concentrated Than Ever, OtherWords. Just four tech superpowers have raked in half of this year’s stock price gains by the 500 largest U.S. corporations.

Matthew Yglesias, A social wealth fund proposal: the American Solidarity Fund, Vox. People’s Policy Project founder Matt Bruenig has a new approach to combating wealth inequality.
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