Taking a stab at corporate piracy

Today's big corporate CEOs are ruthlessly slashing the pay of employees while fattening their own purses. I'd call them a bunch of cutthroat pirates -- except that would be awfully unfair to pirates.

New studies are out showing that while the pirates of old certainly were not nice guys, they did have a code of ethics that puts today's corporate buccaneers to shame. For example, in pirate society everyone got a fair share of the loot: Two shares went to the captain, one and a half shares to the quartermaster and one share each to the crew members.

Now, compare this split to the captains of modern-day corporate ships. The corporate captains are not taking a piratical two shares to every one of the crew, but 326 shares for every one that the workers get, which explains why there's a growing mutiny in the ranks!

Rep. Martin Sabo of Minnesota is sponsoring a bill to stop the piracy. Called the Income Equity Act, Sabo's bill simply puts a cap on the amount of CEO pay that a corporation can deduct from its income taxes. You see, a company can now pay $1 million, $10 million, $100 million or more to its CEO and get a full tax deduction from you and me to subsidize it. Under Sabo's legislation, the company could only deduct an amount for CEO pay that is 25 times the salary of its lowest-paid full-time worker. If the lowest-paid worker got the minimum wage of $5.15 an hour -- roughly $10,000 a year -- the allowable CEO deduction would be about $130,000 a year.

Bear in mind that the corporation can still pay its captain as much as it wants to -- it just doesn't get a tax subsidy to do it. And bear in mind, too, that the captain still would get tax-subsidized 25-times what the workers get -- instead of the two-times that pirate captains took.

To learn more, call United For a Fair Economy: (617) 423-2148.