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Culture, Politics

Tax Day

I know everyone’s probably stressed out today, so I’m not going to bog you down with anything complex.  I’m just going to do some simple math.

NPR – In 2010, NPR revenues totaled $180 million.

New York Yankees – In 2011, the New York Yankees are paying 25 players a total of nearly $197 million.

Government funding to NPR in 2010: Approximately 3.6 million.

Russel Martin.  He’s got a career .272 average in 5 seasons, with 57 homers and 309 RBIs.  In case you didn’t know, he’s a catcher.  The Yankees are paying him 4 million per year.

Average Salary of an S&P 500 CEO in 2009:  9.25 million.

TARP Government “funding” for bailouts:  $700 billion.

These numbers don’t really mean a lot without some context, but right off, something should strike us as a little bit off.  NPR is national, after all.  NPR stations reach 32.7 million listeners.  And yet, the Republicans consistently attack NPR and try to cut its meager government grants.  At the same time, they’re defending the salaries of individuals who could write a check for NPR’s entire grant from a third of one year’s salary.  And still buy an island with the leftovers.

The New York Yankees catcher is making more than the government gives to NPR.

I don’t even know how to start talking about TARP.  Seven hundred BILLION dollars to bail out companies whose CEOs… failures almost by definition… still averaged 9.25 million in annual salary.  Bailouts are nothing new.  They’ve been happening for most of our history in one form or another.  What’s disturbing is the notion that a person can fail utterly at business and contribute directly to the biggest economic crash since the great depression and come out a multi-millionaire with a pension.

For us little folks… folks who put their own money on the line to try to start small businesses, or those whose 401Ks are the entirety of their retirement savings, or those who work 50 to 60 hours a week, fifty weeks a year… it’s a little off-putting.  Here are some facts about a 9.25 million dollar salary:

  • Per hour rate at 40 hours per week, 48 weeks a year:  $4817/hr.
  • Hourly pay for wait staff:  $2.13
  • Median per hour pay for wait staff (tips included):  $8.01  (2008)
  • Median annual salary for wait staff (tips included): $16,600
  • Length of time it takes a waiter to make one hour’s worth of CEO salary:  601 hours.
  • Number of waiters and waitresses in the U.S. (2008):  2.3 Million.

Oh… this is a bit arbitrary, but just so you know… a round of golf costs anywhere from $30 to $100 at most courses, and takes two to three hours.  If a CEO donated his per hour pay plus the cost of one morning round of golf, one waitress could skip work for a year.

And what about teachers?  Let’s do some roundabout math.  There were 924 recipients of TARP funding.  I know this is going to be a bit rough, but it’s not about a precise figure.  Anywhere in the ballpark is still scary:

  • 924 companies received 700 Billion dollars.  That averages to 1.32 Billion per company.  (It was much less uniform than that, but it works out the same using the average.)  Thats… wait for it…
  • 30,000 teachers @ $44,000/year.

We’re still talking in really broad numbers here, but there are around 68,000 teachers in Wisconsin.  That means that the Republicans are making a huge stink about essentially two companies.  Two companies they were shouting at the top of their lungs to fund.  No matter what.

Companies who paid their failed CEOs multi-million dollar severance packages.

Like I said at the top, I don’t think there’s a specific point to today’s post.  But when you send off your check for a couple thousand dollars, or get your refund for a few hundred, it’s worth thinking about how your work compares to that of a CEO or a baseball player or a teacher.  And having compared, it’s probably worth wondering whether there isn’t something horrifyingly wrong.



One thought on “Tax Day

  1. Jesus said “sell everything you own and give to the poor” (Mark 10:17-22). Nor did Jesus instruct his followers to invest, as he explicitly says “do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth” (Matthew 6:19). In fact, Jesus condemned the wealthy altogether, stating “Woe to you who are rich” (Luke 6:24) yet this hasn’t deterred Christian leaders from becoming some of the wealthiest charlatans ever to populate the face of the Earth.

    It’s a sad day when christians don’t even follow their own religion.

    Posted by LM | April 16, 2011, 7:32 am

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