16 Comments

  1. Howard

    One big thing that needs to be considered is that CEOs work for the investors, their sole purpose is to ensure the businesses profit more each quarter. I wouldn’t say they work for all of the investors, only the highest dollar investors. Corporations have to have increased quarterly profits to appease those big investors, whom you could consider above the Corporations and whom also always go unmentioned and stay hidden behind the curtains.


    • In theory, but there are many cases of CEO and their boards ignoring or screwing over their own investors.

    • km

      Sort of like the way the upper clergy supported monarchical rule by divine right?

  2. Wanda

    Where do Bill Cosby(and wife Camille) and Oprah Winfrey fit in???

    • pewestlake pewestlake

      Second from the bottom — “Top Professionals.”

    • Jinjan Huiechow

      “RAPIST” for cosby. annoying for the other two

  3. James

    I had posted this chart on my FB wall and somebody posted this comment on there;

    “The math doesn’t add up on this and .2 is less than .35. The elected officials and beaurocrats should be show above the corporate elite. Your pyramid is biased and wrong.”

    Anyone have a comment to her comment???

    James

    • pewestlake pewestlake

      It’s ordered by rank, not by percentage. If the pyramid was supposed to be proportional to size of tier, it would look more like a tapered flag pole sitting on a massive base.

      The whole point of the chart is to make the point that the corporate elite, the bankers and the central bankers (and the wealthy families that derive the most benefit from those institutions) are clearly running the show, not the elected officials, who do the bidding of the banks and corporations even when they’re pretending to be doing something for their constituents, from health care reform (Dems) to gun safety (Repubs) to bank bailouts (both).

      I’m curious as to what type of bias this person sees in this chart. It is clearly a populist message. Does this person really believe that the big banks and corporations aren’t dominating our politics and economy?

      • James

        I’m really thinking it was a BIG mistake for Bush/Obama to bailout the banks in 2007 – 2010. If the elite 1% had of been brought down a few notches we could have started over with a more even playing field

        James…

      • James

        But don’t forget that corporations are people too…

      • Christopher Cade

        Thank you for this chart as it makes the point matter of factually. When attempting to interject or imply some sense of bias one must ask if there is an agenda to protect this analysis that too may have a bias. I see the accuracy in this chart as being honest and all too often not clearly put in front of the masses. When we are facing challenging times as we have been for the last as well as the preceding century as well, this information is documented. Unfortunately and deliberately hidden from few of the masses or the “Everyone Else” level because it works for all of the above to do so. They strategy implored to keep this systemic structured inequality in America going is divide and conquer. We, “Everybody Else” fall for it because racism, classicism and the use of fear of communism/socialism allow for our brand capitalism to operate as is. Thus our investment in the industrial military complex gets the majority of our tax dollars and we are again not as safe as we should be unless we are willing to question and challenge the findings of why a 9-11 attack could have been possible and as successful as it was. There are reason too many to mention in this comment addressing why our public education system has failed its citizenry that are directly related to the value of this chart. Again, I fully appreciate this information.

    • Larry Motuz

      In monetary terms :: in terms of their remuneration as elected officials :: I would place elected officials well below CEOs and senior management within corporations. If elected officials ‘behave’ properly, they will be ‘promoted’ into the corporate elite. If they ‘misbehave’, they are unlikely to have the funds to be re-elected; and, if not re-elected (or wealthy to begin with), they will cease to matter … though getting by on their munificent pensions is not difficult.

  4. Curran

    With respect, you folks are missing the point slightly. We know what happens if you don’t bail out the banks: The Great Depression. The mistake was in not realizing (and using) the fact that they were in a crisis of their very existence at that time, and would agree to ANYTHING to gain the billions that would keep them in business (and allow capital to continue to flow to ACTUAL businesses, letting them pay their workers and suppliers and otherwise keep the economy moving; instead, we panicked and gave them the money, asking nothing in return. Partly this was the GOP’s fault–they were ideologically opposed to asking anything of the banks. That was tyranny, they said. Yeah, right: the tyranny of demanding they sign a contract, a deal with the American People (sort of like a New Deal with the American People) to behave responsibly in future decades in exchange for not all losing their jobs and going bankrupt as they otherwise would have–paying for the mistakes they’d made in making utterly incompetent investments (for comparison, my smaller bank was taken over and dissolved…and sold to JP Morgan…). It’s, do a degree, understandable that policymakers were focused on the immediate: making sure the economy didn’t completely collapse because all the banks who held the money disappeared. However, it’s also a huge and damaging mistake: what this chart gets right is that the finance industry actually is unquestionably the most powerful lobbying organization in American–no surprise there, because they’ve got so much goddamn money.

    However, again, in this moment of vulnerability, we could have, and should have, demanded ANYTHING. They had no leverage, seeking only to stay afloat. We could have rewritten their contracts to eliminate bonuses (the way bankruptcy judges don’t hesitate a moment to eliminate the retirement benefits manufacturing workers have earned for 40 years) and brought other pay way down, and placed strong future controls on their earnings. What’s more, we could have demanded they submit to a New Deal-type regulatory regime for the modern economy–same principles applied to a more complex financial system, partly built to get around the original New Deal with loopholes. There would have been ‘centrist’ and GOP opposition. Obama could have called the bankers’ bluff and told them no bill bailing them out was getting by his desk unless it had fought regulation in it, so they’d better start calling their ‘centrist’ and GOP senators and demanding a yes vote on tough regulations, no ifs, ands or buts.

    Finally, they could have placed new lobbying restrictions on the financial industry-they’re just too powerful for their own good (or anyone else’s, obviously). All this reform could have happened in early 2009 when Obama still had leverage over them–if but he removed his hand into hell they’d fall. But the Democratic Party doesn’t have the intellectual infrastructure to make such demands (or didn’t then–it’s arriving again, with powerful new champions like Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren, but they don’t have the power to force reform alone)–most Democrats in power today were raised on the moderate, pro-banking tradition of the Clintons, while the Republicans were raised on a much more radical version of the same (Reagan). And so here we are.

    The point is: the President is at the top, not the bankers–but only if he chooses to be, and only if he has political support from the people to use in negotiating a fair deal on the role of banking in the economy (during the recovery, they’ve gotten 30% of the profits; that is not a fair deal. It’s a mark of a distorted economy. Finance is just allocating capital–moving money around so that businesses can access it and use it. For that, a system giving finance 30% of total GDP profits indicates a distortion in the economy–i.e. that they’re stealing from the rest of the system, including other businesses who NEED that money in order to invest in the economy for the next generation. Instead, corrupt bankers are spending it on indoor pools…

    But this CAN be fixed. It just takes leadership and hard work to push through legislation limiting the banks–stuff the REALLY don’t like. But luckily there’s precedent: from Franklin Roosevelt and the Securities Act, whole classes of fraudulent banking became criminal–and regulators were appointed who were perfectly willing to make the criminal referrals to the FBI–while others were severely restricted. As a result, the banking system worked very well: capital moved to where it was needed in the economy for 50 years, and there were no collapses paid for by taxpayers. Even the bankers were okay with it–they understood their profits depended on the system remaining stable, and this was worth keeping their greed within reasonable limits: 10-15% of the economy, no more. This only changed when Reagan came along, with the mantra of ‘deregulation,’ to prove the mantra that ‘those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.’ Well, now we have. Now let’s continue repeating history, and fix things. Goldman Sachs may think they’re doing they’re doing God’s Work. Fine: let them continue thinking so, as long as they submit to regulation, including large capital reserves, that prevents another future collapse that someone else, us, has to pay for.

    • pewestlake pewestlake

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Curran. The chart isn’t intended to be a criticism of the bank bailout or even a reflection of the way our democratic republic is supposed to operate. It’s a reflection of the corrupt power structure that exists as a result of the dependency politicians and political parties have on financial institutions, the corporate elite and wealthy investors. That’s why I used the term “feudalism.”

      When you say the President is on top, you’re describing the Constitutional structure of our representative system, which is currently operating for the interests of the wealthy and not much else. Every time the Supreme Court weighs in on corporate civil rights and campaign finance issues, it just gets worse and the Constitutional checks and balances get watered down more and more.

      I wouldn’t say the President is on top. Congress has all the legislative powers. The President may be more powerful than any individual representative but collectively the Congress is just as powerful, if not more so. And, of course, the Supreme Court frequently makes law from the bench and few politicians have the stones to go against anything they do.

      I totally agree with you on your assessment of the problem with the financial sector but I would go even further in several areas. I would put a massive tax on high-frequency trading in the markets and eliminate all capital gains taxes on long-term investments, with gradations for shorter-term holds in between. I would tax the living daylights out of profits from short sales, which distorts the way the stock market is supposed to work and serves mostly as a mechanism for gaming the system by large institutional investors.

      Obviously, reinstating Glass-Steagall is a no-brainer but increasing taxes on gains from securities while lowering or eliminating taxes on loan interest would create an incentive for banks to reinvest in Main Street. Finally, enact legislation providing for the break-up of banks that commit fraud and penalizing the responsible executives with fines, jail time and/or lifetime bans from the financial sector, depending on the severity of the crime.

      Oh, and we should nationalize the Fed and reconstitute the board of governors with a mix of financial, academic, economic and labor representation, all appointed with advice and consent from the Senate, to single ten-year terms. One and done.

      Thanks again for the thought-provoking input.


  5. I say chums do add the translation link IN the article above! http://www.amendmentgazette.com/2014/01/28/feudalism-infographic-translated/

  6. Martin L. Bring

    In my home town of Bellingham, WA, 50% of the population rents. This is becoming the norm for millions of Americans who have essentially become modern day land serfs, renting and paying someone else’s mortgage. Today’s landlords collect as much as 1/3 to 1/2 of their tenant’s incomes who in turn pay for 100% of the landlord’s costs plus provide a hefty income stream to their landlords.

    Thus, having determined that the surest path to wealth is to become a leech with a deed, and having made the conscious decision to live off others, landlords have become one of America’s biggest success stories.

    According to recent study entitled America’s Rental Housing: Evolving Market’s and Needs by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, 43% of America rents and over 45% of renters are cost burdened. That burden is not being imposed just by the 1%. It is maintained by every wannabe investor in real estate.

    Parasitic economic activity is so normalized in our society few citizens recognize it as such. Most of the petite bourgeoisie actually wish to replicate it. Almost everyone knows a friend or family member or honored member of their church who is a landlord but few, if any, view them as a parasites. To the contrary, they honor them and view them as successful.

    Nonetheless, there is no more salient feature of exploitative economic behavior than in America’s housing market over 40% of which is monopolized by landlord’s whose principle relation to their tenants is that of a parasite to a host. Feudalism begins in the real estate sector.

    We, as a people, need to rethink housing from the bottom up.

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