Time to trim the pay gap

William A. Lowell is a retiree who is active on local issues

The increasing gap in compensation that we continue to witness between corporate CEOs and the geometrically increasing number of people at the bottom of the pay scale—who are not paid a living wage—is becoming more and more disturbing.

Too many of those at the bottom of the pay range have little or no health-care coverage, either; in addition to the regular cost of living, they end up paying much more than the well-off for doctor’s visits and prescriptions. If they’re “lucky”—really poor to the point of indigence, or eligible for government assistance—the rest of us pay more for them through taxes or higher health-care costs (usually both).

Whatever happened to the old slogan, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” Sure seems like it would be far less costly if everyone had access to regular checkups and preventive health care—much less painful, too.

Why are those with the most so opposed to such a system? It’s called greed. Even though they can’t take it with them, some folks have an appetite for wealth that’s darn near insatiable.

Imagine such CEO-types as being at the top of their very own “money tree”: They’ve risen to the top, where so many “look up to them” and then they develop “branch operations.”

Unfortunately, next up is offshore headquarters to avoid taxes (even as taxpayers foot a good portion of their costs of doing business), but it escalates profits. Then there’s outsourcing or the use of immigrant labor to further increase profits—often “under the table” and almost always at less than minimum wage. The losers are Americans who need living-wage jobs.

The problem is, those at the top of the “money tree” are bad arborists. You can’t maintain a healthy tree for any length of time if you ignore the trunk. By failing to take care of the trunk—those of us down below their vaulted heights—sooner or later, those “money trees” will topple. No ax will be necessary. Greed will rot them from within.

It’s time to end corporate welfare and encourage an end to CEO greed—including excessive pay. If the guys at the top are smart, they’ll (gently) go out on a limb and turn over a new leaf or two themselves.