In Thursday’s Grand Rapids Press, there were two front-page articles that looked at CEO pay and local wages in light of President Barack Obama’s announcement that he wants to limit the pay of CEOs who received bailout money. Obama has proposed a cap of $500,000.
The first article, “Cap on CEO pay ‘wake-up call’,” starts out alright, with a quote from a local small business owner and a banker who both feel that the limit is justified. However, it doesn’t take the Press long to get to what any reader knew was coming–calling it socialism.
Dave Smith of the Employers Association is quoted saying:
“I think it totally eliminates the concept of free enterprise,” he said. “Putting a third-party ceiling on it smacks to me as a step toward eliminating free trade, capitalism and a little more toward sharing… It seems to be leaning toward more socialistic tendencies.”
It’s a predictable comment for West Michigan and The Grand Rapids Press. In stories on the economy, the local media typically focuses on the perspectives of bankers and business owners–some of which spout this kind of hyperbole on a regular basis.
However, it was refreshing to see The Press cite a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers. Beyond that, The Press actually points out that CEO pay is 262 times that of the average worker.
The second story, “Area survey tells who earns what” is looks at recent Department of Labor statistics for various jobs in West Michigan. However, there are two gems:
“West Michigan union workers out-earn non-union laborers by nearly 38 percent.”
“Union wages averaged $24.78 per hour, while nonunion hourly pay averaged $18.”