I’ve recently fallen in love with the books by Robert Reich, and I’m currently reading my third book of his within the last week. During my current read, Saving Capitalism, Reich dives into the myth of meritocracy and the ridiculous amounts of money that CEOs are paid. He lays out the massive increase of CEO pay over the years. For example, since 1978, CEO compensation is up 940%…
Let me repeat that…940%
To put it in perspective, back in 1965, CEOs made on average about 20 times more than regular employees. In 2018, it was recorded that CEOs were being paid roughly 221 to 278 times more than the regular employee. In a nation where meritocracy supposedly exists, are we really going to lie to ourselves and say CEOs work over 200 times harder than the average employee? That’d be ridiculous to assume seeing as how a full-time worker at 40 hours per week couldn’t work 278 times harder if they tried.
But I’m not here to discuss the nuances of why meritocracy is a myth, I started wondering why the poor, working class defends the rich.
In the current chapter I’m reading of Saving Capitalism, Reich shares a story about how he was speaking somewhere and explaining the issues with our so-called meritocratic system when a blue-collar worker justified why the rich are paid so much. He explained that these CEOs went to college and are smarter than him, so they deserve these massive amounts of compensation.
I could relate to that because although I have a third for knowledge now in my 30s, I was a terrible student and screwed up my chances of going to college. I’ve used that as a way to ignore the flaws in our capitalist system for a long time until I really started educating myself.
The first issue is that we believe people who go to good schools are smart, good students, when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Books like The Price of Admission by Daniel Golden and Pedigree by Laren Rivera teach us that what colleges you get into and what career you get are more dependent on the family you’re born into than anything else.
While I’m a huge nerd who has read over 260 books this year, I don’t expect everyone to do the same. But still, I couldn’t help but wonder why the poor defend the rich with the…