CEO Freedom Day

It’s hard to catch this because it happens so early in the year, but today is the day the average top-earning CEO made as much money as an ordinary person makes in a year.

The companies run by these CEOs will enjoy their own Corporate Tax Freedom Day before the month is done.

These same people pay the Fraser Institute and others to fuel outrage against government services on what they call Tax Freedom Day some time in May or June. By then, of course, we will have completely forgotten the free ride the rich have already enjoyed for half a year.

It’s a story that should be covered every day in the media, because it’s behind most of the social and political problems we face today. But even the stories that cover it make it about something else.

This year, for example, CBC is deciding to focus on the difference in executive pay for men and women. Now I get it, women are paid unfairly, and I support pay equity without reservation.

But the issue isn’t about Linamar’s Linda Hasenfratz making only $14.6 million. Nobody should be taking home that much, not her, nor the eleven other CEOs in Canada making more.

That’s why we have taxes. Sure, they raise money for the provision of common services, but this is something we’d need to do no matter what. The main beneficial effect of taxes is to limit the gap between rich and poor, to ensure that we don’t reach unsustainable levels of inequality.

The rich don’t care about sustainability because they believe they would survive whatever calamity could ensue. They’re wrong, of course, but that’s no comfort for the rest of us.

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