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mike1june-1

Special mention

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A week ago, I wrote about the fact that the United States’ top 500 chief executive officers managed to capture 335 times the average worker’s wage last year, taking home $12.4 million on average.

But I didn’t make this calculation for the top 200 CEOS, including Wells Fargo’s chief executive, John G. Stumpf, who was awarded $19.3 million, “making him perfectly representative of the best-paid chief executives in the country”:

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data compiled by the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the average worker in the United States who doesn’t have management responsibility earns $36,875 a year. . .

A bank teller at Wells Fargo making that average wage would have to work more than half a millennium, until 2539, to earn what that company’s chief executive, Mr. Stumpf, who made the average among chiefs on the Equilar list, earned last year.

That’s right: the average American employee would have to work until 2539 to earn as much as the average of the 200 highest-paid American CEOs did just in one year.

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A couple of weeks ago, I discussed a recent study about class and air rage. In the meantime, things have only gotten worse—on the ground.

Most people attempting to fly these days are forced to endure long security lines, all the while knowing that airlines are raking in enormous profits ($25.6 billion last year, a 241-percent increase from 2014) with low fuel costs, lots of additional fees (for baggage, reservation changes, food and drink, and much else), and shoe-horning economy-class passengers into tighter and tighter spaces.

Gail Collins is absolutely right:

The airlines have maximized profits by making travel as miserable as possible. The Boeing Company found a way to cram 14 more seats into its largest twin-engine jetliner by reducing the size of the lavatories. Bloomberg quoted a Boeing official as reporting that “the market reaction has been good — really positive.” We presume the market in question does not involve the actual passengers. . .

Rather than reducing the number of bags in security lines, the airlines would like the government to deal with the problem by adding more workers to screen them. And the perpetually beleaguered Transportation Security Administration is going to spend $34 million to hire more people and pay more overtime this summer. Which, it assured the public, is not really going to solve much of anything.

(Who, you may ask, pays for the security lines anyway? For the most part you the taxpayer do. Also you the passenger pay a special security fee on your tickets. Which Congress tends to grab away from the T.S.A. for use in all-purpose deficit reduction. I know, I know.)

A spokesman for Delta Air Lines, which took in more than $875 million on baggage fees last year, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that bowing to the extremely modest Markey-Blumenthal request for a summer suspension of the baggage fee wouldn’t “really help alleviate a lot.” It would also, he said, require a “considerable change to the business model.”

Heaven forfend we mess with the business model.

So, this summer, we can expect more rage not only in the air, as economy-class passengers are forced to put up with physical inequality on airplanes, but even before they get on the plane, knowing the extra fees they pay and the long security lines they’re compelled to endure are part of the airlines’ “business model.”

And that model is not about people, but only about profits.

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Donald Trump won’t reveal his income-tax returns. However, even as he claims he’s worth $10 billion, Fortune estimates his wealth at $4.5 billion and last year’s financial-disclosure report to the SEC reveals his assets more in the neighborhood of $1.5 billion. So, the scandal in this case may be that Trump is worth a great deal but he pays few taxes and may actually be worth much less than he claims.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has made her income-tax returns public (so we know that she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, made almost $28 million in 2014). But we have little information about the donations to and the activities of the key family enterprise, the Clinton Foundation.

However, that may soon change. Charles Ortel [ht: ra] has apparently set his sights on the “largest unprosecuted charity fraud ever attempted.”

According to Ortel, in his “Third Follow-up Letter to Donors, Charity Regulators, Investigative Journalists and Citizens Worldwide,”

The Clinton Foundation, directed by certain individuals and together with numerous affiliates, has been part of an international charity fraud network whose entire cumulative scale (counting inflows and outflows) approaches and may even exceed $100 billion, measured from 1997 forward.

Yet, state, federal, and foreign government authorities, that should be keenly aware of this massive set of criminal frauds, so far, move at a snail’s pace, perhaps waiting for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to reveal the scope of its work and the nature of any findings.

This presidential election campaign promises to have financial scandals burning on both ends.

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Everyone who reads this blog knows I’m a big fan of the enigmatic British street artist known as Banksy.

This past Tuesday, a new exhibit of Banksy’s work—”War Capitalism & Freedom“—opened in Rome.

“The exhibit symbolizes the fundamental concepts of Banksy’s vision,” said Emmanuele Francesco Maria Emanuele, the chairman of the Fondazione Terzo Pilastro. “Capitalism in crisis; war, which is a consequence; and the notion of freedom that must continue to live inside us independently from the world that surrounds us.”

mike4june

Special mention

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