Chief executive officers at companies in the United States are uniting behind a push to guarantee no CEO has to work for less than $40 million a year.
“This is an issue of basic fairness,” says John Carter, CEO of iQuantumData in Raleigh, N.C. “The idea that a CEO can live in this country on anything under $40 million a year is unsupportable. No one can maintain three or four houses, keep a boat, and travel to Europe for events like Wimbledon or to play golf at St. Andrews on anything less than $40 million.”
Mike Anderson, CEO of Delta Pharmaceuticals in Philadelphia, says the CEO profession is riven by inequality. “You have CEOs who earn $200 million a year or $300 million a year, and then you have CEOs who earn $15 million a year,” he says. “How is a guy earning $15 million a year going to engage as an equal with a guy earning $200 million a year? It can’t happen, and action needs to be taken.”
To press their case, CEOs earlier this year launched a coalition, End the Pay Gap, and hired a lobbying team to educate lawmakers on the issue.
“Congress just hast not been focused on CEO pay inequality,” says Peter Hanson, a long-time Washington lobbyist who has assembled a team to advocate on the issue. “What we’re trying to impress upon lawmakers is that corporate America isn’t just worried about taxes and regulations; it’s worried about executive-suite pay. And the pay gap is only going to widen in the years ahead.”
The coalition has commissioned a study to assess how much productivity is lost by income inequality at the top. “What we think we’ll find is that U.S. corporations simply can’t compete if a CEO is only making $15 million,” says Hanson. “How can a CEO think strategically about lowering his company’s taxes or moving his manufacturing overseas if he’s preoccupied with his income? We need to take the pay issue off the table so this country’s CEOs can focus on what’s important: paring back research and development, identifying tax havens abroad, and reducing employee benefits that hurt dividend income of stockholders.”
The coalition is drafting legislative language that will require U.S. corporations to pay CEOs a minimum $40 million annually or face tough penalties. “We now have a structure in place that will get this issue on the front burner,” says Anderson. “It’s our hope that, a year from now, America will look back and say, ‘How could we have allowed such a pay gap for so long?”
Not everyone in Washington, though, thinks legislation is a good idea. “A $40-million minimum salary will drive businesses overseas,” says Shelly Williams, an analyst with Lehman Bros. “Why would a board raise their CEOs salary 20 percent, 30 percent, when they can shift operations to Mexico or India and pay the CEO $250,000? This is a business killer, pure and simple.”
Nor can CEOs expect employee unions to take up their cause. “Just as we’re making progress on raising the minimum wage, the CEOs come along and say, ‘Hey, look at us! We need a raise, too!'” says Peter Turner, vice president of government affairs at the Convenience Store Workers of North America, a member of the AFL-CIO. “It’s one thing for lawmakers around the country to say, ‘Okay, let’s raise the minimum wage.’ It’s another for them to say, ‘Let’s raise the minimum wage and increase CEO pay at the same time.’ That’s a non-starter. The risk is, they’ll end up doing nothing.”
But Hanson thinks the timing is right. “One year from now, lawmakers in Congress will be asking how we could have neglected this issue for so long,” he says. “This is the start of a movement.”
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up a week-long meeting with Chinese government and business leaders with a request for the Chinese to give back the millions of jobs American businesses shipped to them over the years. “We are not blaming you for taking them,” Kerry said in his departing statement, given at the American embassy in Beijing. “We gave them to you of our own free will, and you were free to take them. But we’d like to have them back now, and so if you wouldn’t mind returning them to us, we would appreciate it.” The United States has transferred some 15 million jobs to Chinese companies since China was granted Most Favored National (MFN) trade status in 1994, when Bill Clinton was president. Since that time, China has grown to have the second largest economy in the world and is on the verge of overtaking the United States in the size of its gross domestic product, although the country would still lag the U.S. in per-capita GDP. More.
The combover of Republican presidential nomination front-runner Donald Trump has been storing tens of millions of dollars in offshore bank accounts in Panama since 2006 in an alleged effort to avoid paying federal taxes, a report on the so-called Panama Papers by the International Coalition of Investigative Journalists claims. “Working under the name ‘Andre Smooth,’ the combover of Donald Trump has diverted between $4 million and $7 million each year since 2006 in a Panama-based holding company, Smooth, LLC, that otherwise claims no assets,” says the report, released yesterday as part of a rising tide of disclosures coming out of the investigation of some 11.5 million documents leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. More.
PHILADELPHIA—GridValve, Inc., CEO Jeff Barker says it’s imperative in today’s global economy for his company to cut costs and operate on a leaner margin if the industrial parts supplier is going to thrive in the years ahead. “Costs of materials are rising, the Federal Reserve has said more interest-rate hikes are coming, and mandatory healthcare insurance have combined to create a perfect storm that can cripple a globally competitive company like ours,” Barker said in a conference call with analysts today. The CEO, who owns three houses and a 30-foot yacht, said sacrifices must be made across the board. “As much as we try not to cut jobs, we’ll have to reduce our global staff footprint by 500 employees to keep our costs in line with revenue projections for 2016,” he said. A 500-person cut would represent about 6 percent of the company’s worldwide employee base. More.
Republican presidential nomination frontrunner Donald Trump says having a dad who starts a successful real estate business and then hands the business over to you is a great way to become rich like him. “That’s really the best way to amass wealth,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News today. “You gotta start rich and go to a good school, which being rich helps you get into.” In the interview, with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Trump said that having your dad get rich first enables you to focus your attention on sexier but riskier types of businesses like beauty pageants, reality shows, casinos, and airlines. And it provides a cushion in case some of the businesses fail and you have to file for bankruptcy protection. “All in all, having a dad who paves the way is a really great way to become rich,” says Trump, 69. More.
Carmakers in Detroit, Japan, Germany, and elsewhere are competing fiercely to offer cars and trucks that have the most irritating, annoying, and distracting lights possible. “Thanks to new LED technology, we’re able to annoy and distract people in a way that we never could before, and that’s really a game-changer for this industry,” says Rolf Anthonssen, chairman of Volvo Personvagnar AB, the Swedish car making giant based in Gothenburg. Since about 2010, carmakers have been turning to LED technology for headlights and tail lights because of the technology’s versatility and efficiency. LED technology uses light emitting diodes that require little energy to power on and off. Because of that efficiency, automakers can make lights twice as bright as traditional incandescent bulbs, and at less cost. More.
Cross-dressing Society Sues Garment Industry for Not Making Women’s Clothes That Fit Men, and Vice Versa
Calling it “unconscionable” that no women’s clothes are made to fit men, and vice versa, the North American Cross-Dressing Society filed lawsuits in the United States and Canada today against the garment industry in the hopes of forcing manufacturers to end size discrimination. “These lawsuits are for cross-dressers everywhere who are tired of the slim pickings they find at clothing racks across the United States and Canada,” says John Sebers, president of the cross-dressers group and a cross-dresser who lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “In a day and age when heroes like Caitlin Jenner are breaking down barriers for transgender people, we cross-dressers continue to find our favorite coordinates and our essential mix-and-match outfits completely mis-sized for us.” More.
Starting in 2020, when U.S. currency is expected to be worthless, a woman will appear on the $10 bill, marking the first time a woman will be depicted on the country’s paper money. “This is an historic milestone for women and for the country,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said at an announcement yesterday. “It’s long past the time when a woman should be honored to be on what was once considered the world’s reserve currency.” Lew said it was simply a trick of fate that a woman would finally appear on U.S. currency at a time when it would be worth a fraction of what it once was. “We were not hoping a woman would appear on our currency when it was worthless,” he said. “It was not our intention.” More.
LOS ANGELES—A man is charging one of the top modeling agencies here with discrimination for basing its hiring decisions on applicants’ looks and not taking other factors, such as academic achievements or community service, into account. “In this day and age, for any modeling company to base its hiring decisions soley on whether a person is ‘good looking’ or not is indefrensible and, frankly, reprehensible,’ says aspiring actor Bradley Connors. “Everyone should be entitled to a fair shot at employment opportunities, particularly in these tough economic times, without having to depend on qualifications that not everyone can be expected to have.” The Image Agency, named in the lawsuit as the defendant, called the charges “completely and utterly without merit” in a statement and said it will “vigorously challenge and prevail in this ill-conceived and regrettable action.” More.
The world’s worst investor says he’s going all-in on California swimming pools, because with the state’s new water meters and water-use restrictions, swimming pools will become the “forbidden fruit” of the moneyed set. “Where does the 1 percent live? In California. What does the 1 percent want? Swimming pools,” says the world’s worst investor. The world’s worst investor says he “took a bath” on his last big investment idea, Texas gun locks. But he thinks he’s backing a winner this time. “You want to go where people are going, only go there sooner,” he says. “Right now, where are people going? They’re going to California to swim.” More.
AKRON, Ohio—Touring a wire coat hanger factory in what was once a blighted industrial area here, President Barack Obama said the United States is returning to its roots as a manufacturing giant and he took a stab at critics who say the country risks losing more manufacturing jobs if a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is passed. “Like this wire coat hanger I have in my hand, the United States is strong,” Obama said, speaking before the 75 employees of the Ace Wire Company. “Anyone who needs evidence that the United States can compete with anyone in the world just needs to look at the factory floor that surrounds me. Every day, more than 10,000 coat hangers are made here and distributed to dry cleaners and hotels throughout the United States and throughout the world. America is back!” More.
Manufacturers and technology companies have failed to blanket the living environment with blinking lights and bleeping noises even though they’ve had the capability to do so for many years, the world says. Until enough blinking lights and bleeping noises fill all living spaces at all times, there will be operations and processes that won’t be sufficiently signaled for people the world over to be sufficiently signaled about every process and operation. “As hard as it is to believe, it’s possible today to go from your home to your car without being signaled by a blinking light or a bleeping noise alerting you to an operation or process that has occurred and that could affect you,” says the world. “Has the newspaper arrived at your doorstep? Have your sprinklers been turned on to water your grass? These are the kinds of processes and operations today that remain un-signaled with a blinking light or bleeping noise. More.
When John and Lucy Wong had Angie three months ago, nothing was too good for her. Now their daughter is the first on her block to have a carriage with a built-in TV, so she can watch educational and other programming even when she’s out enjoying a stroll with mom or dad. “Why just have her watch TV when she’s in her crib?” says Lucy, 24, a marketing assistant with a financial services company in Atlanta. “Going outside for walks is the perfect time to have her watch TV, too.” Although pediatricians generally discourage screen time for children before they reach two years old, parents like the Wongs say such advice doesn’t apply to them. “That’s for people who just throw their child in front of the TV for babysitting,” says Wong. “We don’t do that. We’re always educating our daughter. More.
WASHINGTON—The Chinese government has reached out to the Obama administration with a proposal to buy the country’s debt of more than $17 trillion if the government would take about $5 trillion for it. “We are offering the U.S. government an opportunity to get our from under its heavy debt load, restructure its finances, and move on to a new period of prosperity,” said China’s Minister of Finance Lou Jiwei. “We say at the outset that we cannot offer less than this discount of 70 percent, because the American government has threatened to default several times in the last three years.” Lou said the Chinese government would also require that all American companies doing business in China work in partnership with Chinese companies, which would include the sharing of proprietary trade and technological intelligence. “Of course, the prohibition on Chinese companies sharing trade and technological intelligence with American partners would remain in place, as it must,” said Lou. More.
An explosive book by former Ayn Rand intimate Barbara Branden says the founder of the ultra-free market philosophy of objectivism was actually a heavy user of federal assistance and regularly sought meetings with federal officials to squelch competition to her free-market manifestos Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. “No one was more enthralled with the brilliance and charisma of Ayn Rand than I and my husband, Nathaniel Branden, were, but in the end, the great seer of free-market economics was no different than anyone else, taking government handouts whenever she could and using the coercive power of the federal government to make life miserable for true free-marketers whose work posed a threat to her bestselling books,” writes Branden in her book, Ayn Rand: Welfare Queen, just released from Pythagoras Publications. More.
An unsuccessful applicant for an account executive opening at an Macro Surety Analysts, an insurance risk management firm, says the company’s failure to hire him constitutes discrimination against his headphones, which he refused to remove during his interview. “I wear headphones when I work, everyone I know wears headphones when they work, and I’ve been told that Macro Surety employees often wear headphones at work, so to be discriminated against in the hiring process because I wore headphones to the interview is a clear violation of federal equal opportunity rules and the national goal of equal opportunity in the workplace, says Joseph Bernard, 24, who’s put the issue of headphone discrimination on the front burner with his claim filed yesterday with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. More.
“OMG!” A Silicon Valley web start-up is shifting the micro-blogging movement into hyper gear with its launch this week of hhrmp.com, a “hyper-micro” blogging site that limits posts to just 5 characters. “At this point in the evolution of social media, the 140-character limit of Twitter is just too big,” says Jeremy Gliner, whose title is chief hhrmp’er at hhrmp! Media. “Today’s teenagers have grown up on Twitter, Snapchat, and other micro-blogging platforms and they want their own thing. And they don’t want to compose anything that resembles a sentence. Given the success of our beta site with this critical demographic, we feel we’re giving this up-and-coming generation of word-economizers what they want.” A quick check with a group of 19- and 20-year-olds outside Hillsdale College in College Park, Md., appears to bear out Gliner’s assessment. More.
Zack Morton doesn’t pretend he’s collecting his federal unemployment compensation, rental subsidy, and food stamps as a stopgap measure while he looks for work. No, he just doesn’t like to work and as long as the free money holds out, he has no intention of getting a job. “I hate working,” he says. “Getting up in the morning, brushing your teeth, going out in the cold, or the heat, and working all day in an office or outside or in a restaurant or something—I hate it.” Morton says he worked for a while when he was in high school, and in fact dropped out of school so he could work full time. But he didn’t like the work—it was as a clerk in a department store—and he ended up getting fired. “I think I came in late or something or didn’t come in at all. I just can’t remember,” he says. More.
Smokers were in an uproar as CVS Caremark, the second largest drugstore chain in the United States, announced plans to stop carrying cigarettes and other tobacco products at all of its 7,600 locations by October 1. “We understand that CVS is a private company and it’s within its control to sell or not sell cigarettes,” John Beenes, president of Americans for Smokers Rights, says. “But smokers also have a right to kill themselves and CVS, in its decision to stop selling cigarettes, is infringing on that right. We will certainly fight this all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court if we have to.” CVS, based in Woonsocket, R.I., announced in February that its decision is intended in part to get other drugstores to stop selling cigarettes. “I think it will put pressure on other retailers who want to be in healthcare,” said CVS Caremark Chief Medical Officer Dr. Troyen Brennan. More.