Why the wealth gap should not be the focus

For all the fuss about the growing wealth gap — something many people view as a problem — I think we are looking at it from a flawed perspective. Sure the wealthiest people within a given corporation earn exponentially more money than its base line workers.  But the differences in salary between the top earners and those at the bottom is not what we should be comparing.

Think about the AKC dog shows.  The way the dogs are judged is not in relation to the other breeds in the competition.  The Beagle is not judged against the Fox Hound or Husky. The Beagle is judged against itself.  As a Beagle, is it the best Beagle? Is the Fox Hound the best Fox Hound?

What we should be asking is if those on the lower rungs are in the best job paying the highest salary considering their knowledge, skills, abilities, and education.  Are they in the most beneficial employment circumstance given their real options?

Comparing those at the top with those on the bottom only takes into account a bottom line figure.  When we do this, we are drawing a moral conclusion.  Usually that the ones at the top are making “too much” and those at the bottom are making “too little” and then coupling the two to imply (or stating explicitly) that the the ones at the bottom are making “too little” because the ones at the top are making “too much”.  This isn’t true.

Take my situation.  The “CEO” earns approximately 10x my base salary.  That’s 1000% more than me.  What does that tell you?  Is that just?  Is that fair?  How would you be able to tell?  What is the relevant information?  You see, bottom line numbers and percentages are not enough.

To gain an accurate perspective of whether someone is earning what they should be, we need to look at the job at hand.  Comparing it to someone else doing another job will only tell you differences in earnings, not whether that difference is justified.


  1. vincedeporter says:

    My question is — isn’t there a moral problem?

    When the CEO of Walmart makes $16,826.92 an hour, and refuses to give health benefits to his employees, while paying them minimum wage, how can one not see this as a moral problem?

    Talk about the Merchants of the Temple…

    • But walmart does give health insurance and pays more than min wage.

      • vincedeporter says:

        Aw come on my friend. Yes… what, a dollar more than the minimum wage? And do you know what kind of health insurance is involved?

        Lets not pussyfoot around. My question still stands:
        Do you really believe the CEO of Walmart has no moral obligation to recompense his employees with some of wealth they participated and worked for?

        Do you not see the greed here? A sin by Biblical standards?

  2. vincedeporter says:

    Gotta work. Looking forward to your posts, always. Ttyl. :)

  3. vincedeporter says:

    More to the point, are you saying corporations are not greedy?

  4. vincedeporter says:

    I have commented more elaborately on your article about legislating toward ideals.
    If there is one thing I admired about Jesus, was his sharing spirit.


  5. vincedeporter says:
    • Vincent

      According to Huffington post the ceo of walmart made 23.15 million last year. According to forbes magazine, there are 1.4 million walmart employees. That equates to $16.54 extra a walmart employee would make PER YEAR, only a little more than a dollar a month. Its not because the ceo makes millions that the bottom people make so little. They make those salaries because that’s what the JOBS are worth. Its not about the value of the person, its the value of the task.

  6. vincedeporter says:

    Just read your link. Yes… I see what you mean.

    Why does ii FEEL so wrong though?

    • It feels wrong because we only look at bottom line numbers and are conditioned to look at one employee versus the ceo and not consider the total workforce. Its political.

      • vincedeporter says:

        //It feels wrong because we only look at bottom line numbers and are conditioned to look at one employee versus the ceo and not consider the total workforce. Its political.//

        Correct. That was the way I was looking at it. Yikes.
        Thanks for explaining this logically. I understand now.

  7. vincedeporter says:

    Okay — now I see your argument. Well expressed. The article in Huff Post compares ONE employee to the CEO, instead of comparing like you did the bulk of the employees.
    You point is made.
    Still feels wrong, but that’s just emotional from my part, I admit.

  8. vincedeporter says:

    Again, you have the right idea.
    That’s what I love about arguing perspectives. I was clearly looking at this from the wrong premises. I was wrong on this one.
    Quite a quake in my perspective to be honest.

  9. It’s like a poker tournament. Last place gets thousands. First place gets millions. And poker is just about the most level playing field out there, yet the end result is that a few walk away with the bulk while the masses walk away with much much less.

    What’s the difference between first and last? Are they not both just men? Well, yes and no. The winner is probably more experienced. He’s probably more able to seize opportunities, or more willing. He may be more or less risk averse. And he acted in certain ways in similar situations when last place simply did not.

    Such is life.

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