A popular theme in liberal politics recently is income inequality. The Occupy Wall Street movement waged its political war with rhetoric about “the 1 percent.” It was one of the attacks used to discredit Mitt Romney as an appropriate candidate, a man who “could not relate” to the common folk.
As characterized in a recent film, the “Wolves of Wall Street” are seen by many as brutal and unethical manipulators who hoard money and leave little for the rest of us.
OK, so I can certainly see the legitimacy for anger and frustration about these matters in these tough economic times. However, is it fair to have selective outrage for fat-cat CEOs and somehow spare the rest of the .01 percent elites — the athletes and entertainers? I love sports, and particularly music, but should these people not be held to the same scrutiny?
Looking at the statistics from 2012, only the highest-paid CEO in the country rivaled the incomes of Steven Spielberg and Madonna. And, looking at the list of the highest-paid athletes from the same year, the top 10 salaries matched up nearly identically to CEOs.
Furthermore, the other popular comparison made to demonize CEOs — the increase in the ratio of their pay to the average worker over time — can be made pretty much identically with athletes and entertainers versus their fans. So, where’s the outrage? Is the money that ends up in Madonna’s overpriced purse somehow different than the money that ends up in some CEO’s Rolls Royce? Clearly, no!
So, how does our president weigh in on this? Well, I’ve heard him use the term “Wall Street fat cats,” but I don’t recall him using any similar language toward entertainers. In fact, he has called Hollywood an “economic engine.” And, in a quid pro quo fashion, the Hollywood crowd provides him great support, and, in fact, speaks out at times against income inequality and the evils of capitalism.
Leonardo DiCaprio reportedly was paid $10 million for “The Wolf of Wall Street.” I wonder what wolf (in sheep’s clothing, of course) negotiated that deal.