Corporate Leadership Ethics
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).
Some time around 1990 boards of directors of major corporations changed their hiring practices for CEOs, chief executive officers. Instead of looking around and determining fair pay levels like in previous practice, they began paying an extra 20% in an effort to hire the very best. Unfortunately this began an upward spiral in executive salaries that took pay levels from 120 times the average employee in 1980 to 700 times the average employee around the year 2000. In fact, Bill Moyers reported back then that the average Fortune 500 CEO was making $37 million to the average employee of $38,000 in those companies, approximately 1000 to 1. Ever since then the average top 1% income person had widened the gap from the other 99% considerably, consuming almost 100% of all income increases since the 2008 recession. In fact it truly is the 99% who are being exploited by the top 1%: when you look at the average top 5% income in 1979 and compare it to the top 5% minus the top 1% in 2007, the average for the next 4% in 2007 is lower than the top 5% average in 1979. So the elites are exploiting even the near elites.
Ever since the 1981 Reagan tax cuts richly rewarded the top 1% much more than the average person by cutting the top income tax rate from 70% down to 28%, income inequality has been steadily getting worse in America. One economist, Justin Farley, had found than the top tax rate does robustly inversely correlate with income inequality in America over the last century. While the average Reagan income tax cut was 25%, this 60% tax cut for the rich meant the average person got a much smaller tax rate cut than 25% since the rich pay nearly half the income tax revenue. Since the seventies, average people have experienced no net income increases, while the top 1% has seen their incomes quadruple from 1979 to 2007 according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. And it has gotten worse since then. Reagan was a lobbyist for General Electric, the number one nuclear weapons contractor during the Cold War; hence the heavy shadow of empire and the military industrial complex has to take the major blame for our current circumstances (see Infact report circa 1980s for details then). The new debt of the twelve years of Reagan Bush was equal to the military spending of those years, three trillion dollars each by my own calculations (not adjusted for inflation since 1992).
The failure of the corporate elite to check themselves in this period represents an abdication of their fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders, as most CEOs recommend who should be added to the boards of directors of large corporations. It is in fact an example of crony capitalism. Unlike the current corrupt Supreme Court and judiciary, an honest judiciary might well find in favor of a class action lawsuit that addressed these CEOs and their boards to retake this extorted income and restore the shareholders of these corporations who have been systematically exploited by this large scale class warfare against the rest of us by these CEOs and their cronies. In the major banks, this lack of ethical responsibility lead to loan officers giving mortgages out to poor risks in the housing boom of the Bush years. The greatest housing booms were in the same states with the greatest military buildups. These same states are the most corrupt in the country, because high military spending increases crime nationally and regionally. Hence the military buildup multiplied the conditions for the 2008 banking implosion that resulted from lack of oversight by the regulatory agencies.
Empires create crime, power corrupts, alienates and lowers ethics as explained here: https://www.academia.edu/4862977/CRIME_and_the_Military_1989-1999_3p._1999
Hint: to read this paper for free, you must click on the tiny word “read” in the middle of the bottom of the screen after you go to the above link on academia.edu.
Professor Robert Reuschlein, Dr. Peace,
Real Economy Institute, Madison,Wisconsin