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Are CEOs 300 times more valuable than their lowest-paid workers?

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Many of these facts are from a “Working Group on Extreme Inequality,” formed in 2007, a coalition of groups concerned about poverty and unequal opportunity, and the “dangers” of concentrated wealth and power. It gives extensive resources online, but my impression is that niche websites and blogs are paying more attention to this trend to the top than conventional media, and certainly more than the politicians in Washington who are so dependent on campaign funds from the prosperous. Maybe there’s another economic similarity between the US and Egypt. Certainly the state-controlled media in Egypt paid little attention to the growing wealth of the elite there, though popular social websites did.

Not about envy, but fairness

Now a good populist should not be appealing to a human sense of envy. Rousing envy could be damaging. Even the poorest Americans are generally far better off than the poorest 20 percent of Egyptians with an individual income of less than $2 a day. And Americans are, thankfully, remarkably tolerant of income differences.

But an appeal to an innate sense of fairness might have some political clout, despite inevitable false charges of socialism or even communism. It is the free enterprise system that after all allowed the massive accumulation of riches in recent decades. So the extremely well-to-do should be paying more to assure a worthy capitalist system is maintained in a healthy state, benefiting the bulk of citizens more generously.

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